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U.S.-led Mideast peace talks appear to have failed

May 5, 1998
Web posted at: 7:35 a.m. EDT (1135 GMT)

LONDON (CNN) -- U.S. negotiators, led by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, have given up hope for a major agreement between Israel and Palestinians during peace talks in London, sources on Albright's team told CNN on Tuesday.

After the London talks ended, there was an unconfirmed report that the United States has invited Israel and the Palestinians for a further round of talks in Washington next week.

Washington's attempt to salvage the London talks ran into trouble on their unscheduled second day after Israel raised new conditions, diplomats said on Tuesday.

"These things take time," one U.S. negotiator said. "We've been here before," said another, reflecting previous negotiating efforts which have failed to produce agreements.

Albright kept Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waiting for two hours while she conferred by telephone with President Bill Clinton and British Prime Minister Tony Blair and sent her deputies to sound out the Israelis, aides said.

Netanyahu with aides in London Tuesday   

When Netanyahu and Albright finally met Tuesday, it was for just 15 minutes. The two had spent nearly six hours together on Monday.

One senior U.S. official did not dispute CNN's analysis that the United States had held Netanyahu's "feet to the fire, and they weren't even singed."

A separate meeting between Albright and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat on Tuesday also lasted just a few minutes.

European diplomats said Israel had raised new conditions in response to U.S. proposals for a further handover of 13 percent of occupied West Bank land to Palestinian rule.


Netanyahu wanted talks switched away from London for more meetings elsewhere, demanded a firmer Palestinian crackdown on suspected terrorists and guarantees that the Palestinians would not declare an independent state, and insisted there be no reference to a "time out" on Jewish settlements on occupied land, they said.

If Netanyahu accepts the U.S. proposals, he could have serious problems with hard-right supporters of Jewish settlers in his fragile right-wing coalition.

If he rejects them, he would open a crisis with the United States and cause more splits in his Likud party, from which Tel Aviv Mayor Roni Milo, a pro-peace former Cabinet minister, announced on Monday he would resign to challenge Netanyahu in the next election.

World Affairs 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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