Flurry of Summit Meetings Continues as Clinton Sees Barak a Third Time
US President Bill Clinton kept up a hectic flurry of bilateral meetings here at an emergency Middle East peace summit on Monday, entering a third round of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak after dark.
Clinton, shuttling between Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, had seen both leaders twice separately before the latest discussions began with the Israeli prime minister.
White House spokesman PJ Crowley declined to comment on the substance of the meetings, which by late afternoon had begun to come with confusing frequency as efforts picked up to bring an end to escalating violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories, and to restart the collapsing peace process.
Clinton went into his third meeting with Barak shortly after meeting with his team to "assess next steps" following 40 minutes alone with Arafat, Crowley said.
"We are plotting where we go from here," Crowley said before the third Clinton-Barak meeting began.
Although Crowley would not discuss details, Clinton's rapid succession of talks came as foreign ministers at the summit broke up a second gathering of their own without agreement on a document aimed at halting the ongoing violence.
"I would not say they have finished their work," Crowley said after the ministers broke up.
"They did not manage to reach an understanding. The work will continue. And at the end the leaders will have to decide," an official in Barak's office said.
"The difficulties stem from the fact the Palestinians are demanding that Israel take steps on the ground before a cessation of violence," the Israeli official said.
A senior US official said US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Egypt's Foreign Minister Amr Mussa, acting Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami and Palestinian international cooperation minister Nabil Shaath had been working on a draft document that could be presented as a sign of progress at the close of the summit -- (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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