Barak, Arafat Agree to Resume Peace Talks
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat agreed during a two-hour summit late Sunday to renew peace talks Monday, Barak's office said.
The two, who had not met since mid-March, held the summit under the shadow of stalled peace talks and obstacles that are preventing negotiators from hammering out a framework for a final peace accord to be reached by Sept.13, said Reuters Monday.
The meeting was conducted in a good and business-like atmosphere and was characterized by the participants as productive and useful, Barak's office said in a statement.
The talks will renew in an undisclosed location.
Intensive discussions held in the Red Sea resort of Eilat last week broke off after Palestinians angrily rejected a map Israel presented for final peace.
The Palestinians said that, according to the maps, Israel planned to annex large parts of the West Bank.
Barak's office said the leaders discussed the outstanding interim and final peace issues, but did not say if anything had been agreed to.
Before the session began, a Palestinian official, who asked not to be identified was quoted by BBC as saying, "we expect Barak to tell Arafat he wants to postpone the transfer of villages near Jerusalem with the pretext that he has domestic problems."
Israel's foreign minister, David Levy, and Barak's senior adviser, Danny Yatom, participated in Sunday night's meeting.
On the Palestinian side, the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Ahmed Korei, known as Abu Ala, and senior negotiator Mahmoud Abbas, or Abu Mazen, participated.
Palestinian negotiators said Friday that a week of talks with Israeli negotiators had ended with wider gaps than before. They insisted that Israel recommit to swapping occupied lands for peace, said Reuters.
The White House envoy mediating the talks, Dennis Ross, is due to return to Washington Tuesday for a couple of days to brief President Bill Clinton, who is determined to clinch a historic peace accord before leaving office in January, said BBC – (Several Sources)
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