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US Welcomes 'Positive Steps' by Palestinian Authority - 2001-12-21

The State Department has welcomed the decline in Israeli-Palestinian violence and says U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni will, at some point, resume his quest for a full-scale cease-fire.

Re-called from the Middle East last week amid serious violence, Mr. Zinni met here with Secretary of State Colin Powell and other top officials on the future of his peace mission.

Unrest has since subsided following Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's televised pledge Sunday to crack down on terrorism.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher welcomed what he termed "positive steps" by the Palestinian authority to curb violence but said it should do more. He said Israel should respond in tandem with steps to improve living conditions in the Palestinian areas. "As the Palestinian Authority continues to move in a serious manner on security, Israel must also take steps on the ground to ease restrictions on the Palestinian population," he added.

The spokesman said Mr. Zinni would return to the region at a time when he and Mr. Powell believe his presence can be effective in moving toward a durable cease-fire.