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Breaking News

Crisis in the Middle East: Summit Concludes with Agreement

Aired October 17, 2000 - 6:24 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news right now. We are just getting word of a breakthrough at the Mideast talks in Egypt.

Our John King is there and he joins us live now with the very latest.

John, what do you have?

JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Linda, CNN has learned that the Israelis and the Palestinians, as a subject of direct diplomacy by the U.S. President Bill Clinton, have agreed on a summit declaration here, that according to senior U.S. sources meets all of the requirements President Clinton set out when he came here to the emergency Mideast summit a day ago.

According to these senior U.S. sources, the document first and foremost commits the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, to make public statements unequivocally condemning the violence and to take, quote, "immediate concrete measures" to ensure calm, restore calm to the region.

Now, we are told by these sources that the specifics won't be spelled out in this document, but that the leaders have agreed to take several specific steps. The Israelis, for example, we are told, have agreed to redeploy troops now in the Palestinian territories, to pull them back. And the Palestinians, we're told, have agreed to restore, quote, "law and order."

The Israelis had complained, as this crisis unfolded in the past two-and-a-half weeks, that the Palestinians had released Hamas guerrillas from prison, and that that was a threat to Israeli security. We're told Mr. Arafat has agreed to rearrest all those who were released.

Now, secondly, we're told there is an agreement for the United States to lead a fact-finding inquiry, in conjunction with the Israelis and the Palestinians. The result of that inquiry ultimately would be shared with the United Nations.

Significantly, this is a compromise from the president's initial goals here, the composition of that panel yet to be set, but it is significant, at least in the view of U.S. officials, that the Palestinians have agreed that that fact-finding inquiry would be led by the United States, as long as they received strong assurances, and they have, that it would have international representation, the Israelis and the Palestinians would help settle on the composition, and ultimately the results would be shared with the United Nations.

And thirdly, this a key goal of the president, we are told that the both parties, the Israelis and Palestinians, agreed to go on the path back to negotiations. And senior U.S. officials say, if all goes well, they expect Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to sit down back at the formal bargaining table for the first time in weeks, in as short a time as two weeks, perhaps three weeks in the view of U.S. officials.

Now some compromises in here, but U.S. officials saying this satisfies the president's major when he came here. Number one, he says both leaders, this senior U.S. source say both leaders committed now to seeking a firm and enforceable cease-fire agreement. The announcement to be made a bit later here in Sharm el-Sheikh, as they put this language now down on a document.

U.S. officials crediting tireless diplomacy by the president, who was up until 4:00 in the morning last night, back up at it today here in Sharm el-Sheikh -- Linda.

STOUFFER: John King, with the latest from Egypt, thank you very much for that.

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