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Bush snubs Arafat on 'terrorists'

Arafat had been accused of failing to curb terror attacks in Mideast
Arafat had been accused of failing to curb terror attacks in Mideast  

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- U.S. President George W. Bush has refused to meet Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at a U.N. meeting in New York this weekend.

In a snub to Arafat, the Bush administration has said it does not believe he is doing enough to haul in those it calls terrorists such as Hezbollah and Hamas.

Arafat will be at the United Nations on Saturday when Bush speaks to a special session of the general assembly.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had been due to meet Bush during the weekend, but said he had to stay at home because of the troubled situation.

In-Depth: Middle East struggle for peace 

Arafat has had some high-profile meetings recently, including meetings with the British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Spain's King Juan Carlos, as the West attempts to stabilise the Mideast as part of its aim of stamping out terror attacks.

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U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice told reporters that the White House believes Arafat has not done enough to arrest members of these terror groups in the Mideast.

She added that Arafat had a "responsibility" as chairman of the Palestinian Authority to do "everything that he can" to arrest terrorists.

Rice said Bush had made it clear to Arafat that he could not help the U.S. with al-Qaeda and "hug Hezbollah and Hamas" at the same time.

But the Palestinians hit back at the criticism on Friday.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told CNN: "We cannot accept this situation. Nobody is doing more for peace than Yasser Arafat."

Erakat repeated the Palestinian call for an international conference on terrorism, differentiating between those "struggling for freedom" and those who inflict terror.

He shifted the focus on Israel, saying Arafat had frequently called on the Israelis to return to the negotiating table.

But Sharon had always "shut the door" on such requests, refusing to implement the Mitchell plan and the George Tenet proposals, Erakat added.

"I share the belief that negotiations must resume immediately," Erakat said.

"I have to remind the world that Sharon since he came to power has snubbed all forms of negotiations."


• Palestine Red Crescent Society
• Palestinian Authority
• Israeli Government
• Israel Defense Forces

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