Arafat Arrives in Cairo after Playing Down Russian Peace Bid

Published November 25th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat arrived in Cairo Saturday for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after playing down the scope of a Russian bid to stop Palestinian-Israeli violence. 

"Arafat will brief Mubarak on the results of his meeting (Friday) with Russian President Vladimir Putin," Mubarak's political advisor Ossama al-Baz told reporters. 

The Palestinian leader, during a visit to Jordan earlier on Saturday, dampened expectations raised by his visit to Russia. 

"It is not a Russian (peace) initiative but it is an attempt to calm the situation," Arafat told journalists during a visit to a hospital in Amman where wounded Palestinians were being treated. 

Putin brokered a telephone conversation on Friday between Arafat, who was visiting him, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, the first such contact in three weeks. 

Arafat and Barak pledged to study the details of a new Russian initiative to end the two-month spiral of violence in the Middle East, the Kremlin said.  

Upbeat Kremlin officials declined to reveal the precise details of the telephone diplomacy, but Barak's office said immediately afterwards that Arafat had declared himself ready to work for peace. 

During his visit to Jordan, where he also discussed the violence in with King Abdullah II, Arafat said that the priority was to stop the violence in the absence of a peace initiative. 

"We must stop the military escalation, return to the situation which prevailed" before September 28 and "apply what was agreed whether it was in Sharm el-Sheikh, Paris or Washington," he said. 

He was referring to understandings reached in those places which are aimed at stopping eight weeks of violence that erupted when Israel's hawkish opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited a disputed Jerusalem holy site. 

"Until now, the Israeli side refuses to apply what was agreed in Sharm el-Sheikh," he said. 

It was at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in October that US President Bill Clinton extracted unwritten pledges for a truce from Arafat and Barak. 

Arafat meanwhile called for Clinton not "to resort to the right to veto" in the UN Security Council, which would block a resolution calling for such a force to be sent to Gaza and the West Bank. 

"We are expecting the United States to act to implement what was agreed at Sharm el-Sheikh and the other agreements that were concluded" between Israelis and Palestinians, Arafat said in Amman. 

Arafat said the international commission, which was agreed at Sharm el-Sheikh to study the causes of the violence, would begin its work in two days, adding he hoped it would work properly. 

The Palestinian leader had insisted on an international commission to investigate the causes of the violence but settled for a fact-finding committee set up by the United States and the United Nations – CAIRO (AFP) 



© 2000 Al Bawaba (

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