Clinton: Israelis, Palestinians will Stay at Camp David to Pursue Peace Talks
US President Bill Clinton said Thursday the Israelis and the Palestinians had decided to pursue the Middle East peace talks at Camp David during his absence in Japan.
"Nobody wanted to give up ... and I didn't think we should give up," Clinton told a press conference after the White House announced the Camp David summit had failed despite nine days of negotiations.
"After a round of intensive consultations this evening, the parties agreed to stay at Camp David while I go to Japan,” he said at a press center near Camp David.
"Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will try to close the gaps," Clinton added.
"There should be no limit to the effort we are prepared to make."
"The two parties have been making an intense effort to resolve their difficulties," said Clinton who is scheduled to return from Okinawa on July 23rd.
He described the talks as "the most comprehensive and thorough negotiations ever between Palestinians and Israelis on the core issues of their conflict."
Both Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak have announced they will remain in the United States to revive the failing Camp David peace talks.
Both had announced Wednesday that they would leave the summit, citing each other's attitude as the reason for failure.
"There are efforts to resume the negotiations," said Hassan Abdel Rahman, the PLO representative in Washington.
"President Arafat is staying, he is not leaving tonight," Abdel Rahman said.
A senior Israeli source said Barak would stay at Camp David overnight to continue the talks.
"I confirm that the Israelis are staying to continue the talks," the source, who refused to be named, said at a hotel in the Maryland town of Frederick where Israeli officials and press are staying.
"There has been progress, we cannot go into details," he said. "President Clinton has asked both sides to stay with (US Secretary of State) Madeleine Albright to continue with her the discussions."
"There is a possibility of reaching a framework agreement and that arrangements on Jerusalem will be put off to a later date," he added.
The PLO official had immediately blamed Barak for the failure of the talks, accusing him of behaving like a settler at the negotiations.
"The man who bears responsibility for this failure is Barak who abandoned the basis of the peace process and international legitimacy," Abdel Rahman said.
Barak "behaved with the mentality of (Jewish) settlers," on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, he charged after the White House announced that nine days of intense talks at the presidential retreat in Maryland had failed to produce an agreement - THURMONT (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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