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US Withdraws Top Envoy After Mideast Violence - 2001-12-15

A top U.S. envoy to the Middle East is returning to Washington for consultations, following the latest round of violence between Israelis and Palestinians. Retired General Anthony Zinni was unable to negotiate even a temporary cease-fire.

Secretary of State Colin Powell has called General Zinni back to Washington to consult with President Bush over how best to proceed in the Middle East, in light of continuing violence.

The State Department says General Zinni will remain engaged in the process and return to the region.

He has been there nearly three weeks, during which time, there has been a series of attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli civilians followed by Israeli attacks on Palestinian targets.

The State Department says ending the terror and violence is a top priority for the Bush Administration. It says the United States is committed to doing everything it can to help the two sides end the violence and return to talks on a political process.

President Bush says it is time for Yasser Arafat to act against those responsible for the attacks on Israeli civilians.