UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Tuesday welcomed Israel's decision to give peace with the Palestinians one more chance and said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was anxious for a return to calm.
"I am very pleased that the government decided yesterday not to stick to its 48-hour deadline. I think it helps," Annan told reporters after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
Annan is on a shuttle diplomatic mission to defuse tensions in the Middle East as violence flared for the 13th day in the Palestinian territories and as Lebanese guerrillas continue to hold three Israeli soldiers captive.
His talks with Barak followed the Israeli prime minister's decision overnight to give Arafat more time to quell almost two weeks of bloodshed that has left around 100 people dead, most of them Palestinians.
Since arriving in the region on Monday, Annan has met twice with Arafat, who Israel accuses of doing too little to halt the worst violence in the territories in years.
"I got the impression that Arafat is concerned about the level of violence," said Annan. "He is anxious to see the situation calm down ... I believe this is possible." -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
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