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S P E C I A L Struggle for Peace

Mideast talks extended with scant hope for breakthrough

Meeting
Albright and Arafat met for several hours in London Monday   
May 4, 1998
Web posted at: 2:35 p.m. EDT (1835 GMT)

LONDON (CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Monday extended her separate talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, but expressed skepticism about the chances of breaking the deadlock over how much more Israeli-controlled land should be put under Palestinian administration in the West Bank.

Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, after a meeting with Albright on Monday evening, said there had been no progress yet.

Albright was due to hold a second meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Monday.

The main sticking point in peace negotiations, stalled for the last 14 months, has been the question of how much West Bank land Israel will hand over to Palestinian rule. Israel has previously said it would be willing to hand over another 9 percent, while Washington is said to be pushing for 13 percent -- a suggestion fully supported by Arafat.

After four and a half hours of talks with Netanyahu earlier in the day, Albright was quoted as saying "the situation ... hasn't changed" and there is no "compelling evidence that the meetings will yield a breakthrough."

Albright and Netanyahu
Albright and Netanyahu in London Monday   

U.S. spokesman James Rubin told reporters after the session between Albright and Netanyahu that the meeting was "very good in tone ... but at this point, what we need is substance."

But on the basis of the tone of the meetings, Rubin said, Albright's staff was said to be "ever so slightly more hopeful."

Rubin said it was possible that Albright could remain in London for a second day of talks and again also declined to rule out the possibility of a three-way meeting.

Rubin refused to answer when asked whether the Israeli prime minister had offered any new ideas during his talks with Albright.

Rubin said the United States had previously briefed both the Israelis and Palestinians on U.S. ideas "designed to bridge the gap" between the two sides on the West Bank issue.

Correspondent Ralph Begleiter and Reuters contributed to this report.

 

Struggle For Peace
B A C K G R O U N D   I    K E Y   P L A Y E R S   I   M A P S

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