Clinton Calls Arafat in Bid to Restart Negotiations
US President Bill Clinton and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat spoke by telephone Saturday about ways to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, a Palestinian official said.
"The two leaders had a very important conversation of 45 minutes on the ways to save the peace process and restart negotiations before President Clinton's term ends (on January 20)," Arafat adviser Nabil Abu Rudeina said.
"The two leaders agreed to work together to reach an agreement as quickly as possible," he said, without providing more details.
Asked about reports that Clinton, Arafat and Israel's caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak would meet soon for a summit, Abu Rudeina said Clinton had not given any invitation.
"For the moment contacts are going to continue in the region for about a week," he said.
But a Clinton spokeswoman said earlier that while the outgoing president was trying to help restart talks, there was nothing on the table.
"There is no American proposal," Mary Ellen Countryman said.
Also Saturday, senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP the Palestinians want a summit with Israel and the United States to reach an accord on the final status of the Palestinian territories.
"If there are negotiations, they must be held in a summit aimed at finishing what was started at the Camp David summit," Erakat said, alluding to the failed meeting in July of Arafat, Barak and Clinton.
"Contacts exist but no invitation has been sent for a summit," said Erakat, adding that Arafat insisted at his meeting Thursday with Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami on "an Israeli retreat to the 1967 borders."
Ben Ami and Erakat are planning to meet later Saturday to continue talks, according to Israeli radio -- GAZA CITY (AFP)
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