Clinton: We made significant progress with Arafat and Netanyahu
Palestine-Israel-USA, Politics, 9/28/1998
US President Bill Clinton met jointly today for one and half hours with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Clinton after the meeting said "we made significant progress" without being specific about the progress.
Clinton said "there has been a significant narrowing of the gaps between them," and that he asked both leaders to come back to the US in mid-October with their teams "to finalize an agreement." He refused to comment on whether the US supports a Palestinian state beyond stating that the Oslo agreement calls for the issue to be negotiated in the final stage.
Arafat had threatened and stated that there will be a Palestinian state next May 4th. Clinton said that "as long as the peace process is moving forward.. what ever the US says publicly in this regard will not be helpful." US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and US envoy Dennis Ross will head back to the Middle East in early October (around the 5th) for further negotiations.
Albright described today's meeting between the three leaders as providing "a sense of urgency" and conveyed to Arafat and Netanyahu that the decision about agreeing to peace agreements is theirs to make. Albright added that this process should be speeded up and it is important "to keep the momentum" that we developed.
The USA had proposed that Israel withdraws from 13 percent of occupied Palestinian territories. Israel wants 3% of this land to be a "nature reserve" and under Israeli security control, according to Netanyahu's latest comments on this subject.
At a conference of the presidents of major Jewish organizations on Sunday, Netanyahu said, "We are at the point where we hope we can complete an interim agreement with Palestine and begin the final settlement talks with them to try to arrive at historic peace between Israelis and Palestinians."
Arafat spoke on Sunday at a conference sponsored by the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation. He said, "The Palestinian state will be a state of peace."
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