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US: New Palestinian PM Should Have Full Control of Security - 2003-09-08

The United States said Monday it expects the Palestinians' new prime minister to be given full control of Palestinian security services and to crack down on anti-Israeli attacks. A senior U.S. diplomat met with the prime minister designate, Ahmed Korei, in Ramallah Monday.

It was still not clear late Monday whether Mr. Korei, also known as Abu Ala, would accept the nomination by Palestinian Authority chief Yasser Arafat.

But the Bush administration was operating under the assumption that Mr. Korei would assume the post, and sent the acting U.S. Consul-General in Jerusalem, Jeffrey Feltman, to meet the senior Palestinian figure, and convey the urgency of a crackdown on terrorism.

In a talk with reporters after meeting Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the new prime minister must have both the capability, and the inclination, to move against Palestinian radicals whose attacks have halted progress on the so-called "road map" to Middle East peace.

"We hope that, however it turns out, whoever the prime ministers is, and I suspect it is going to be Abu Ala, that he will make a commitment to fight terrorism, and I hope that he'll be given the political authority, the security forces and the financial assets that are needed to undertake this task," he said.

Considered a moderate, Mr. Korei is well-known to U.S. officials for his past role in Middle East diplomacy starting with the 1993 Olso accords, and they are hopeful he has more success than former Foreign Minister Mahmoud Abbas in wresting budgetary and security powers from Mr. Arafat.

Mr. Korei said Monday he would take the job only if he received full support from Mr. Arafat and the United States, and Israel accepted what he termed a "real cease-fire" and ended targeted assassinations of Palestinian militants, military checkpoints, and the demolition of Palestinian homes.