SLUG: 2-288711 Powell Mideast (L 2nd UPD)
TITLE=POWELL-MIDEAST (L-2ND UPDATE)
///// ED'S: REVISES LAST TWO TEXT GRAFS TO INCLUDE U-S READOUT OF SUNDAY'S POWELL-SHARON MEETING. /////
INTRO: Secretary of State Colin Powell met Palestinian-leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in his quest for a Middle East cease-fire. V-O-A's David Gollust reports from Jerusalem that Mr. Powell goes to Lebanon and Syria Monday for talks on the situation along Israel's northern border.
TEXT: There was extraordinary security for Mr. Powell's three-hour visit with Mr. Arafat, whose bullet-scarred compound in Ramallah remains largely occupied by Israeli troops.
A senior U-S official said the Secretary pressed Mr. Arafat to rein-in Palestinian terror, saying the suicide bombings in Israel are a barrier to moving forward to a truce and peace talks.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters Mr. Arafat would carry through with his stated pledge to curb violence, only after Israel ends its more than two-week-old military drive in the West Bank:
/// EREKAT ACT ///
We are fully committed to our obligations emanating from understandings and agreements reached, including our security obligations. But I am sure the Secretary saw President Arafat's situation. So who is controlling here? And I believe that once the Israelis complete their troop withdrawal, we will as Palestinians carry out our obligations.
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The senior American official said Mr. Arafat spoke non-stop for an hour at the start of the Powell meeting about the hardships caused to Palestinians by the Israeli incursions. He said Mr. Arafat demanded a end not only to Israel's siege of his headquarters, but also its encirclement of the Jenin refugee camp and Bethlehem's church of the nativity.
The Powell visit to Ramallah gave U-S reporters a rare look inside Mr. Arafat's compound. The Palestinian leader, dozens of his staff members and security men, and about 30 foreign peace activists have been barricaded there since late last month, just meters from Israeli troops outside and in adjacent buildings.
Palestinian Doctor Zeid Abu Shawish, an official of the Palestinian Authority's health ministry, said he was treating six men wounded in fighting with Israeli troops. He said he is worried about poor sanitary conditions and a lack of water in the sole building of the complex controlled by Arafat supporters.
He said the 72-year-old Palestinian leader is in good condition:
/// ABU SHAWISH ACT ///
His physical condition, he is, thanks God, he is well, feeling good. Of course the situation, under pressure, it is unusual pressure for an old man like him. But I hope that he will pass this situation.
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Mr. Powell later went to Tel Aviv for his second meeting in three days with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. A U-S spokesman said in the course of a "very good and thorough" talk with the Israeli leader, Mr. Powell pressed for the completion of Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank. The spokesman said he stressed "serious concerns" about the humanitarian situation, especially in Jenin.
Members of Mr. Powell's team are to meet Monday with senior Palestinian officials, while the Secretary visits Beirut and Damascus in a trip expected to take less than 12-hours.
The Secretary can be expected to ask Lebanese and Syrian officials to clamp down on the activities of Hezbollah guerrillas in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah rocket attacks into Israel have raised international concern about the eruption of a "second front" in the Middle East conflict. (SIGNED)
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