SLUG: 2-291900 Israel/Palestinians (L-O)
TITLE=ISRAEL / PALESTINIANS (L-ONLY)
INTRO: After two days of talks, Israeli and Palestinian officials are holding out hope that the discussions could help calm almost two years of violence. Larry James reports from Jerusalem on the efforts to reopen Middle East peace efforts.
TEXT: Both sides have said their two meetings on Monday and Tuesday were not peace negotiations and yielded no breakthroughs.
But they did agree to continue talks in the hope that a way can be found to end the bloodshed.
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met Tuesday with the new Palestinian interior minister, Abdel Razaq al-Yahiya, and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat.
Mr. Erakat said Israeli officials talked about security issues during the meeting, while the Palestinians asked for an end to Israel's siege of West Bank Palestinian towns and cities.
The series of meetings drew a measured reaction from both sides. But even Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has said there can be no talks until attacks against Israel stop, seemed less pessimistic than he has been in recent weeks. He said that while peace "looks distant at this time, it seems to me that maybe some type of window has opened."
Palestinian spokesman Yasser Abed Rabbo offered a cautious assessment of the situation.
/// RABBO ACT ///
There might be more meetings with the Israeli side, but we don't expect much from these meetings unless there is an international intervention.
/// END ACT ///
On Tuesday, President Bush spoke by telephone with Israeli and Saudi Arabian leaders about Middle East peace efforts. The calls came as U-S Secretary of State Colin Powell prepares for talks on the Mideast next week in New York with Russian, European, and U-N officials. (Signed)
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|