Powell to Visit Israel, Palestinian Territories in February

Published January 9th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

The newly appointed US Secretary of Sate Colin Powell is to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories in February as part of a Middle East tour that will also include Kuwait, reported Haaretz newspaper Tuesday in its internet edition. 

The paper said that Powell will participate in an event celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Gulf War, adding that after his visit to Gulf monarchy, he is to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority.  

Haaretz added that the State Department has started preliminary preparations for Powell's visit, which will take place after Israel's prime-ministerial elections on February 6.  

The paper didn't say whether Powell's visit aims at reviving the peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians. 

In the meantime, US Middle East peace envoy, Dennis Ross, will arrive in the region this week to examine possibilities for promoting the negotiations, according to the paper. 

US President Bill Clinton announced Monday that he will send Ross in a bid to find a way to reduce the levels of violence in the Palestinian territories, according to Haaretz. 

Meanwhile, peace negotiators will join Israeli and Palestinian security officials for an upcoming meeting to try to bring calm to the Palestinian territories and Israel after a failed attempt in Cairo Monday, a Palestinian official told AFP Tuesday. 

"We decided to form a political-security committee to meet in the next few days that will include negotiators from both sides," the official told AFP, asking not to be identified. 

He said the meeting would take place "in the next few days," and that it would likely be held in Cairo. 

The agreement to hold the expanded meeting was the result of weekend security talks in Cairo that failed to produce results because of the political nature of many of the issues involved, the Palestinian official said. 

"This (meeting) came after Palestinians rejected Israeli and American claims that Palestinians are responsible for all that has happened and the Intifada, and that Palestinians should start taking measures so that Israelis could test them and then decide to start loosening their grip gradually," the official told the agency.  

"That was when the (Cairo) meeting almost collapsed and that was when it was agreed to form the committee involving politicians," he said, added that "field committees" were also set up. 

The Cairo talks were also attended by the chief of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) George Tenet and Egyptian officials -- (Several Sources) 



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