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SLUG: 2-286196 Bush / Mideast (L)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=2/07/02

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=BUSH / MIDEAST (L)

NUMBER=2-286196

BYLINE= PAULA WOLFSON

DATELINE= WHITE HOUSE

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: President Bush says Yasser Arafat has not done enough to stop violence against Israel. But he makes clear he is not ready to cut off ties with the Palestinian leader. V-O-A's Paula Wolfson reports the president spoke at the end of a White House meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

TEXT: Mr. Sharon came to Washington hoping to convince the Bush administration to cut off all contact with Yasser Arafat. President Bush politely refused but vowed to keep the pressure on.

////BUSH ACT///

Mr. Arafat has heard from us. I can't be more clear in my position and that is that he must do everything in his power to fight terror.

///END ACT///

Prime Minister Sharon listened silently and then offered a warning. He said Yasser Arafat is not interested in stopping the violence.

///SHARON ACT///

Myself and my government regard Arafat as an obstacle to peace. Arafat has chosen a strategy of terror and formed a coalition of terror.

///END ACT///

But hidden amidst the tough talk about the situation in the region was a glimmer of hope from Israel's Prime Minister.

///SHARON ACT TWO///

I believe that one day we will be reaching a peace. Israel is committed to peace. And at the end of the process I believe we will see a Palestinian state.

///END ACT///

President Bush has also talked in recent months of his vision of a Palestinian state at the conclusion of the peace process. He told reporters that in the near term, something must be done to improve the everyday lives of the Palestinian people.

///BUSH ACT///

I am deeply concerned about the plight of the average Palestinian, the moms and dads who are trying to raise their children, educate their children.

///END ACT///

This was the fourth meeting between President Bush and Prime Minister Sharon in less than a year. Mr. Bush has never met with Yasser Arafat. When asked about the disparity, White House officials simply say they schedule meetings when they think the sessions will be useful. (signed)

NEB/PW/RH



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