Clinton Calls Barak, Arafat Ahead of Ceasefire Deadline

Published October 20th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

US President Bill Clinton telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat late Thursday, hours ahead of a deadline for a ceasefire in the Middle East, the White House said. 

"The president expressed concern to both leaders over (Thursday's) incidents of violence," spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said. 

"He encouraged both leaders to implement the steps called for in the Sharm el-Sheiklh agreements and to do what they can to restore calm," she said. 

Both calls lasted about 20 minutes, she said, adding that Clinton had called Arafat from Air Force One as he headed to a fundraiser in Connecticut and called Barak once he had landed. 

Barak and Arafat agreed to a 48-hour end of hostilities during the Sharm el-Sheikh summit that ended Tuesday in Egypt. 

The ceasefire deadline was later extended to Friday, but the deaths of a Palestinian and an Israeli Thursday in the West Bank threaten to unravel the peace efforts. 

Earlier Thursday, national security advisor Sandy Berger also urged the sides to reduce tension as the deadline approached. 

"There have been incidents today, and we just need to encourage (and) press the parties to do everything to try to bring this under control," Berger told reporters after a speech at Georgetown University in Washington -- WASHINGTON (AFP) 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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