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On-off Mideast talks back on

shooting scene
Continuing violence has delayed talks  


JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A much postponed meeting between Israel's foreign minister and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is back on.

Israeli and Palestinian sources confirmed the meeting is to take place Wednesday after the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, told Israel Radio he hoped the meeting would take place immediately.

The planned meeting to discuss cementing a fragile truce that has been in place for one week has been postponed four times because of continuing, although much less persistent, violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has insisted he would only allow Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to meet Arafat after 48 hours of complete calm.

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Arafat was due to fly Damascus, Syria, on Tuesday but did not board a plane in Amman, Jordan for the trip.

Nabil Shaath, one of Arafat's top aides, said the trip was called off by Syria, but the Syrians told Israel Radio that Arafat had canceled the trip.

Regardless of how the Syria flight came to be canceled it freed Arafat's diary for a Wednesday meeting with Peres. The United States has been urging the Israelis to hold the meeting in the hope of making some progress on resuming peace negotiations.

Diplomatic sources have said the United States believes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is hurting Washington's attempts to build support in the Arab world for its 'global coalition against terrorism."

Arafat had been due to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad. He was originally scheduled to go to Syria on September 12 but canceled the trip after the hijack attacks in the United States.

Israel announced last Tuesday it would stop offensive operations against the Palestinians after Arafat ordered his security forces not to open fire on Israelis even in self-defense.

Since then there has been continuing violence but both sides agree at a much lower intensity.

On Monday an Israeli woman died in a hail of bullets as her car was fired on in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.





RELATED STORIES:
• Israel preserves Mideast truce
September 21, 2001
• Violence postpones Mideast meeting
September 20, 2001
• Militants rejects truce
September 19, 2001

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