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Diplomatic Efforts Continue in the Middle East - 2002-11-13


U.S. envoy David Satterfield spent his second day in the Middle East Tuesday, pushing a so-called “roadmap” for peace, which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state – with temporary borders – by the end of 2003.

European union envoy Miguel Moratinos was also in the region Tuesday – meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Mr. Arafat also played host to Russia’s Middle East envoy, Andrei Vdovin, Tuesday.

NATURAL SOUND -- Arafat speaking in Arabic

After that meeting, Mr. Arafat said the Palestinians have accepted the U.S. “roadmap” in principle. He said there would be a formal response after consultations with Arab states.

The need for such escalated diplomacy was painfully clear to Israelis and Palestinians alike at two different funerals Tuesday. In Israel, two young brothers and their mother were put to rest. They were among five people killed by a Palestinian gunman at kibbutz metzer in northern Israel Sunday. On the Gaza strip, thousands turned out to mourn the loss of two young Palestinian boys. Both died as a result of Israeli gunfire in separate incidents.

Meanwhile, Israel’s new foreign minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is challenging Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the leadership of the right-wing Likud Party, said if he is elected prime minister in the upcoming election – he will expel Palestinian leader Arafat.

At the United Nations in New York, Secretary General Kofi Annan said that is not a good idea.

KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL
“Many governments around the world have indicated that it would be unwise to exile Chairman Arafat and I hope that will not happen.”

Later Tuesday, Prime Minister Sharon said he will continue to “fight terror and defeat it” – a comment seen as veiled criticism of the pledge made by Mr. Netanyahu, his political rival.

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