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Powell Calls on Arafat to Curb Terrorism - 2002-02-01


At the World Economic Forum meeting in New York Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell again called on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to curb terrorist violence against Israel. During a panel discussion, Mr. Powell also promised continuing U.S. engagement to end the cycle of violence in the Middle East.

Mr. Powell said Mr. Arafat must take stronger action to curb Palestinian terrorism. He described the seizure of a boatload of heavy weapons allegedly bound for Palestinian territories as a disturbing escalation. But Mr. Powell said there must be renewed dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. He said the U.S. and the European Union are working together to end the cycle of violence.

"We talk and communicate in so many ways with each other on a constant basis," Mr. Powell said," so that we break down any disagreements that might exist between us and present a unified point of view to people we're trying to move down the path of peace. And toward conditions that will permit them to devote their energies to helping people come out of poverty and not to attack one another and let these conditions of violence continue."

Participating in the same discussion, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said this is the most difficult period in the Middle East in a decade. He said Europe and America have no choice but to intensify their diplomatic efforts. Mr. Solana agreed that Mr. Arafat must curb Palestinian terrorism but he said Israel too must do more.

"But also the Israeli government has to begin getting engaged through some political perspective," Mr. Solana said. "It will be very difficult without any political perspective to get the temperature in the sea of violence down to the level that everyone around this table would like to have."

Another participant, Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem said Israel and the Palestinians seem to be engaged in a process of mutual suicide. "Therefore, it seems that there should be a simultaneous effort to put down terrorismto eliminate totally terrorism," said Mr. Cem. "But in the meantime, to have a dialogue in view of reaching a settlement for peace in this unfortunate geography [the Middle East]."

In the same discussion, Secretary of State Powell said the war on terrorism is only just beginning. He said the United States will go after terrorism wherever it exists.

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