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White House: Arafat Appeal for End to Violence Viewed as Constructive

The White House says Yasser Arafat's speech Sunday to the Palestinian people was a constructive step, but officials are waiting to see if his appeal for an end to violence is followed by action.

White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer said the United States had urged Yasser Arafat to make a broadcast address in Arabic on the need to break the cycle of violence. "The president viewed Chairman Arafat's words as constructive," said the spokesman, "but the president is also most interested in making certain the constructive words are matched by concrete actions."

Mr. Fleischer said President Bush will be keeping a close watch on the situation. "The president will watch to make certain that concrete actions will result in a diminution of the violence that is plaguing Israel. And that will be the real measurement of Chairman Arafat's leadership," he said. The White House spokesman stressed the United States will stay engaged in the peace process. But he said if peace is to take root, somebody in the Palestinian leadership must stop the violence.