Uncertainty Persists over Barak-Arafat Meeting
There was continuing uncertainty Wednesday over a planned meeting between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak to discuss the flare-up of violence in the Middle East.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said a meeting between the two men and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was expected around 3:00 pm (1300 GMT), but half an hour after the deadline it had not started.
Instead, Israeli officials said Barak had entered a second round of bilateral talks with Albright, while Arafat was still at a central Paris hotel.
Israeli and US officials said they still expected Arafat to arrive for a three-way meeting.
Arafat earlier said he would only resume dialogue with Barak if Israel accepted the establishment of an international commission of inquiry into the bloodshed of the past week.
But after meeting Albright earlier Wednesday, Barak repeated Israel's rejection of the idea, saying separate internal investigations with American mediation would suffice.
The Paris talks were organized by the United States in an attempt to stop the spiral of violence that is threatening to derail the Middle East peace process - PARIS (AFP)
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