Mideast quartet meets in New York; Powell supports to ''kick Arafat upstairs''
Talks between Arab states and the international diplomatic "quartet" in New York on Tuesday are to focus on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's future role, analysts and diplomats said.
Foreign ministers Ahmed Maher of Egypt and Marwan Moasher of Jordan, along with a representative of Saudi counterpart Prince Saud al-Faisal, will attend the New York meeting with top officials from the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia.
The three Arab ministers will then meet Wednesday in Washington with US Secretary of State Colin Powell and later with President George W. Bush.
According to Newsweek magazine, Powell will try to convince the Arab side to accept a US strategy aimed at marginalizing Arafat, without discarding him completely
The U.S. Secretary of State reiterated on Monday that the Bush administration would like to see a new Palestinian leadership, but said he would be willing to consider a plan whereby Arafat would be "kicked up upstairs" to another position.
"It is a formula I'd be more than willing to consider," Powell said when asked about a reported suggestion that Arafat could be elevated to a presidency, paving the way for a Palestinian prime minister.
"I think it's up to the Palestinian people to ultimately decide what role Chairman Arafat should play in the end," Powell said in a interview taped for ABC's "Nightline." But the secretary reiterated that the United States believes Arafat has no place in future peace negotiations.
"I think we would all be well served, and this process would be well served, if we had new leaders identified to us by the Palestinian people who would come with authority and responsibility to them," Powell said.
"Chairman Arafat unfortunately has not been able to deliver," said Powell.
For his part, Arafat's top adviser called for the quartet to work for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The quartet "should work immediately to implement the (UN) Security Council resolutions, the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops and to pressure the Palestinians and the Israelis to sit together and to start negotiating," Nabil Abu Rudeina said Tuesday.
"We are willing to send our delegation to meet an Israeli delegation at any moment," he told Israel's public radio, which said a resumption of talks could take place later Tuesday or Wednesday. (Albawaba.com)
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