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CNN BREAKING NEWS

U.N. Envoy Hands Palestinian Prime Minister Road Map for Peace

Aired April 30, 2003 - 10:25   ET

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

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Right there, that package right there, that is the newly selected and appointed prime minister for the Palestinians, representing the Palestinian Authority. I recognize Saeb Erakat there, the chief negotiator for the Palestinians. They're also in that crowd.
This is a video feed that's coming in to us. As you can tell, we don't have complete control over that video feed, but we do have our Kelly Wallace, who is standing by not far away interest from that point. And she's been watching what's happening there -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Leon, a little hard to hear you. But what I can tell you, according to Saeb Erakat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, he tell us officially this road map for Middle East peace has been presented to the new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. The U.N. envoy to the Middle East making that presentation.

Also, a very interesting side note here, Leon -- Saeb Erakat also telling CNN that members of the Mideast quartet, excluding the United States, that would be the United Nations, Russia and the European representatives in the region, will be taking, along with the Palestinian prime minister, this road map to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat on Thursday.

The significance here, as we know, the Americans and the Israelis have been pushing to see Yasser Arafat off to the sidelines. They want to see Mahmoud Abbas as the one who is controlling day-to-day Palestinian affairs. This, perhaps, another sign of the challenges ahead for Mahmoud Abbas, whether the Palestinian president is going to try to assert control and power behind the scenes.

In fact, in an interview, Leon, earlier this week, the Palestinian President Arafat saying he is the elected leader of the Palestinian people. He will meet with any diplomat who will meet with him. He say his will continue to have a major say in what is going on in the Palestinian community.

So the official presentation has happened here in Ramallah. Earlier this afternoon, the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon received his copy of the road map from the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Both sides, we should say, Leon, know very well what's in this road map. It was negotiated over months. It was written and drafted in December. Its release had been put off for a number of reasons. The Israelis elections in January, then also the U.S. government calling for the creation of a new Palestinian leadership, and saying once that leadership is sworn in and in place, this road map will be released. So the road map now released. Lots of questions, though, Leon, just what happens next and whether this road map will ultimately get the two sighs back to the negotiating table -- Leon.

HARRIS: Still apparent there may be a couple of road bumps in the way or speed bumps in the way before they hit that road map.

Thank you, Kelly. Kelly Wallace in Ramallah.

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