Israeli-Palestinian Talks Begin in Advance of Middle East Summit
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will begin two days of pre-summit talks on Sunday to soften up the tough issues that must be resolved to conclude another historic Camp David accord, reported The Associated Press.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and senior US mediator Dennis Ross will assist in the talks, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
The negotiators will discuss the agenda as well as the issues, which include the future of Jerusalem and how much territory Israel will transfer to the Palestinians, said the agency.
US President Clinton is expected to set the pace at the summit, which he will open Tuesday morning at the presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin mountains.
So determined is the administration to limit disclosure of the Camp David deliberations the Israeli and Palestinian delegations were advised not to bring cellular telephones with them to the secluded retreat, the AP said.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian president Yasser Arafat are due to arrive separately late Monday at Andrews Air Force Base in Morningside, and go directly to Camp David, the AP added.
Arafat plans to bring a delegation of 50 to the summit, including Palestinian leaders, lawyers, and technical staff.
Among the delegates will be representatives from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a political faction that in the past rejected peace efforts with Israel.
The future of Jerusalem looms as the potential deal-breaker, but Barak is seeking a compromise that would involve changing the boundaries of the city.
The Palestinians' day-to-control of areas of Jerusalem would be expanded to incorporate some Arab suburbs.
Israel, at the same time, would absorb some Jewish settlements on the city's outskirts, said the agency.
But Arafat has his eye on east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state. The projected state would encompass virtually the entire West Bank and Gaza, more territory than Barak has indicated he would relinquish, according to the AP - Albawaba.com
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