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Interview with Amre Moussa, Arab League

Aired March 29, 2002 - 13:14   ET

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


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

AMRE MOUSSA, SECRETARY GENERAL, ARAB LEAGUE: ... to end this vicious circle of attacks and counterattacks. The goal has to be addressed to both, not only to Arafat, but to Israel. Israel is an...

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, and he did -- sir, he did address both, but you're correct in thinking that there was no mistaking that his comments to the Palestinians were much stronger than to the Israelis.

MOUSSA: Yes, indeed. But the point is that calling on one side or be harsh on one side and giving an excuse to the other is not, in my opinion, the way to end this vicious circle.

Both of them. There are troops, foreign military occupation on the Palestinian side, against which there is resistance, and the resistance -- as you know, the foreign military occupation breeds resistance.

This is a vicious circle that will never come to an end until and unless we do whatever we can in order to stop it. We believe that the U.S. can play a leading role in doing so, especially in connection with or in the light of the special relations between the U.S. and Israel. Mr. Sharon...

KAGAN: I want to get more to U.S. involvement in a moment. First, though, sir, today's actions must be incredibly disappointing, especially after yesterday's vote to support the Saudi peace proposal. Yesterday seemed like such a day filled with hope, and today a day filled with violence.

MOUSSA: Right.

KAGAN: Where does that proposal go from here?

MOUSSA: Well, unfortunately, what we have said, what we have offered, what we have suggested did not bring the proper answer except what we have seen: invasion and killing and siege.

KAGAN: Well, but, sir, if I can just interrupt, that did happen after yet another suicide bombing.

MOUSSA: Yes, indeed. I wish to tell you... KAGAN: These are Israeli who were just going to the market and blown up at their own local market.

MOUSSA: I want to tell you that we cannot condone any attacks against civilians.

KAGAN: And there are some, sir...

MOUSSA: But I want you to know also that the civilian population is under heavy attack and a lot of casualties among civilian population. So we condemn the attacks against civilians, but you have also to bear in mind the frustration -- the extreme frustration in which the Palestinians live because of this foreign military occupation that breeds all those actions and reaction.

KAGAN: I appreciate that, sir. I want to get back to the point of the Saudi peace proposal. There are some who consider it a huge step forward, but there were some, especially among the Israeli people, who consider it a mixed offering, a mixed message. On one hand, it was an offer of peace; on the other hand, a lot of people heard in that a call for Palestinians to continue fighting and to continue doing acts like we saw at that supermarket in Jerusalem today.

MOUSSA: No, no, no. That is nothing of that kind in the communiques. The communique and the final resolution's goal for this initiative and insists on the strategic option of the Arab countries, just as just peace (ph), but at the same time the foreign military occupation continues. And you cannot, and nobody can ask the Palestinians to condone the tanks and the troops sitting in their streets. This is the problem. That has to be understood.

KAGAN: But cannot there be a call made to the Palestinian people by Yasser Arafat, or perhaps by other Arab leaders, to stop these suicide killings? Are you saying as long as there's an occupation, there's no reason to call for an end to these suicide killings?

MOUSSA: Yes, indeed. We have to put an end to that -- to get to an end to that. We have to end it. But both of us, we have to end the Israeli occupation and we have to end the violence by both parties, Israelis or Palestinians, but both of them. Both of them will have to be called upon to do something. And here is the leadership role of the United States that we need to be exercised, and we need it to be very clear for the Israelis, as well as for the Palestinians.

KAGAN: And what more would you like the U.S. to do? We heard also Secretary Powell say he is not ready to head to the region.

MOUSSA: Yes. But the Israelis will have to withdraw from those cities, from those villages. Their tanks are stationed in front of their homes, in front of their windows, in front of their doors. How can you call on them not to be frustrated?

KAGAN: What more would you like to see the United States do, sir? MOUSSA: I believe that the United States should press Israel to stop this attack and end the siege and withdraw their tanks. And I believe -- strongly believe that this will result in a major change in the whole situation.

They must use the Arab initiative to go back to the table of negotiations, rather than seeing the tanks entering the residence of Mr. Arafat.

KAGAN: So you would like to see stronger comments from those officials, like Secretary Powell, stronger comments than he said asking Prime Minister Sharon just to consider the consequences of his actions.

MOUSSA: Absolutely.

KAGAN: Very good. Well, thank you joining us, Amre Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League. Thank you so much for joining us.

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