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US Urges Palestinians to Find Those Responsible Killing of Americans - 2004-01-18

U.S. officials are pressing the Palestinian Authority to find and arrest those behind a deadly bomb attack on an American diplomatic convoy last October in the Gaza Strip.

U.S. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, say that they are not satisfied with the Palestinian Authority's investigation into the killings.

The U.S. administration has told the Palestinian Authority more progress must be made into finding those responsible for the October 15 roadside blast in the Gaza Strip. The explosion ripped through a diplomatic vehicle, killing three American security guards.

In the days after the bombing, Palestinian police detained seven members of a militant group known as the Popular Resistance Committees. But since then no charges have been made and no new leads have emerged from the Palestinian inquiries.

Palestinian Minister for Negotiations Saeb Erekat told reporters that in recent discussions with U.S. officials, he was told the lack of progress could hamper American aid.

There was no direct threat to scale back the level of American assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Mr. Erekat says the U.S. officials told him that if their colleagues involved in aid programs could not reach the territories because of concerns about their security, this could affect their work.

Mr. Erekat says he urged the U.S. administration not to link the two issues. He says it would be wrong to cut back aid to Palestinians, already suffering economic woes through more than three years of Israeli military closures and other restrictions.