Arafat in Cairo for Unscheduled Meeting with Israeli FM

Published January 17th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat arrived Wednesday for unscheduled talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami, the AFP quoted airport officials as saying.  

The Jerusalem Post said that Ben Ami is scheduled to meet Arafat at 19:00 Cairo local time.  

The meeting was unplanned and came at the initiative of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after his meeting with the Israeli FM. The two met earlier this afternoon and discussed ways of lowering the level of violence in the territories, said the daily.  

Earlier, AFP reported that meeting scheduled between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators was cancelled in light of the Arafat-Ben Ami meeting, a Palestinian official was quoted as saying. 

He said that "the meeting that was to take place tonight (Wednesday) has been cancelled because of the meeting in Cairo. There could be a meeting tomorrow (Thursday)," 

Palestinian parliament head Ahmed Qorei had previously announced that peace talks would be held Wednesday for the second straight day. 

Mubarak on Sunday accused Israel of stirring fears and "poisoning the atmosphere" in the Middle East with electioneering talk of war. 

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has shown a more belligerent attitude regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, according to observers who see the heated statements were meant for electoral gains, especially amid waning support for peace concessions among the Israeli public. Israelis have put his rival Ariel Sharon ahead of him in polls.  

Egypt, which in 1979 became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, plays a key role in trying to bridge the gap between its allies the Palestinians and the Jewish state. 

On Tuesday, the United States cancelled an indefinitely delayed trip to the Middle East by special peace envoy Dennis Ross, on grounds that there was not enough time left in President Bill Clinton's term to forge a peace deal. 

"It's not likely that Dennis Ross will travel to the region this week, there's not enough time left for such a trip to take place," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher was quoted by AFP as saying. 

"Dennis is not going to make the trip that we had thought he might make," Boucher told reporters, referring to the visit originally scheduled for last week – Albawaba.com 

 

© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)


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