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CIA's Tenet Meets with Arafat - 2002-06-04


The director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, has met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as diplomatic efforts continue to end more than 20 months of bloodshed.

The CIA director met Mr. Arafat at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The talks were expected to focus on plans to reform the Palestinian security services.

The reorganization is part of a broader reform package sought by the United States, which has called on the Palestinian Authority to do more to crack down on militants carrying out terror attacks against Israelis.

Palestinian security forces have been seriously weakened by Israeli military incursions into the West Bank.

Palestinian officials say Mr. Arafat will cut the number of security services. The remaining services will reportedly include police, border guards, internal security and external security.

Israel has made any resumption of peace negotiations conditional on an end to violence and wide-ranging reforms within the Palestinian Authority.

Palestinians say Israel's recent military offensive in the West Bank and continuing raids into towns and villages are making it impossible for security services to function.

Israel says the military actions are necessary to prevent suicide bombings and shooting attacks.

Shortly before Mr. Tenet met with Mr. Arafat, Israeli soldiers staged a brief incursion into the Palestinian-ruled city of Jenin.

Palestinians say Israeli forces also entered the Askar refugee camp near Nablus.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian cabinet has decided to keep the leader of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) behind bars, despite a court order that he be released.

The cabinet says Ahmed Saadat will remain in prison because of Israeli threats against him.

The PFLP leader is wanted by Israel in connection with last October's assassination of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi. The Palestinian court ruled there is no evidence linking him to the killing.

Mr. Saadat is being held in jail as part of an agreement that freed Mr. Arafat from virtual house arrest by Israeli forces early last month.

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