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Arafat Willing to Join Fight Against Terrorism - 2001-09-18


Palestinian President Yasser Arafat says he has informed the United States he is willing to join President Bush's global coalition against terrorism.

Mr. Arafat told diplomats and reporters in Gaza he is ready to be, "part of an international alliance to put an end to terrorism against innocent and unarmed civilians."

The Palestinian leader says the objective "is securing a world where security, peace and justice prevail." Mr. Arafat says he is ready to do "whatever is necessary to achieve that goal."

In an unusually conciliatory speech, Mr. Arafat says he remains committed to negotiating a peace agreement with Israel and that he recognizes Israel's right to live in secure borders.

President Bush is putting together a worldwide coalition to fight terrorism after last week's devastating attacks on New York and Washington. Continued fighting in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could make such coalition-building more difficult.

On Monday Mr. Arafat issued new orders to observe a cease-fire with Israel.

The call came after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said if there are two days of complete calm, he will allow truce talks between Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Mr. Arafat.

Mr. Peres issued a statement welcoming the Palestinian leader's latest remarks. Israel has frequently held Mr. Arafat responsible for acts of terrorism against its citizens.

In continuing violence, Israeli troops shot and killed Motaz Daghlas and seriously wounded another Palestinian man near the West Bank town of Nablus. An army source says the two men were shot as they tried to run down a group of Israeli soldiers with a tractor.

In the West Bank town of Hebron, the body of a Palestinian taxi driver was found after a firefight between gunmen and Israeli soldiers. The body of Ismail Dawdi was found in his taxi with multiple bullet wounds.

Israeli tanks and bulldozers moved into two areas of the Gaza Strip.

One unit launched an incursion into a Palestinian-ruled area near Gaza City destroying a building used by a European company involved in construction of a port. The raid came after Palestinians fired mortars at a Jewish settlement.

In a separate operation, Israeli forces destroyed a house in southern Gaza near the Egyptian border.

Security remained tight inside Israel as holiday celebrations continue for the Jewish New Year. The holiday ends at sundown on Wednesday.

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