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US envoy returning to Mid-East

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  • Leonard Grossman
    Tuesday, 1 January, 2002, 12:20 GMT US envoy returning to Mid-East http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1737000/1737136.stm The United
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      Tuesday, 1 January, 2002, 12:20 GMT
      US envoy returning to Mid-East

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1737000/1737136.stm


      The United States is sending envoy Anthony Zinni back to the Middle East in
      an attempt to end more than 15 months of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

      Mr Zinni left the region on 16 December after a three-week mission during
      which a wave of Palestinian suicide bomb attacks were launched inside
      Israel, leading to a series of Israeli reprisal strikes.


      We welcome this decision of the US administration to send General Zinni to
      the region

      Saeb Erekat, Palestinian negotiator
      He will return on Thursday, a spokesman for the US embassy in Israel said.

      His mission, the spokesman said, will be to ensure that Palestinian leader
      Yasser Arafat is keeping a tight rein on militants and to urge Israel to
      ease restrictions on the Palestinian territories.

      The decision to revive Mr Zinni's mediating role follows a marked drop in
      violence between the two sides over the past two weeks.

      Peace plans

      Both Israel and the Palestinians welcomed the announcement.

      Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told Reuters news agency that the
      Palestinians "hope [Mr Zinni] will propose a timeline and mechanism for
      implementing the Mitchell and Tenet plans".

      The US originally dispatched Mr Zinni to the region in November to try to
      implement two US initiatives - a peace negotiations plan recommended last
      May by former US senator George Mitchell, and a ceasefire negotiated last
      June by US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director George Tenet.

      An Israeli official told Reuters that Israel also welcomed Mr Zinni's
      return and hoped "he convinces [Palestinian leader Yasser] Arafat to fight
      with more zeal against terrorism".

      Arafat under pressure

      The Palestinian Authority has arrested scores of Palestinian militants amid
      intense international pressure to crack down on terrorism in the wake of
      December's suicide attacks against Israeli targets.


      Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, however, has said Mr Arafat is not
      doing enough and has repeatedly ruled out returning to peace talks until
      there is a complete cessation of violence.

      US embassy spokesman Paul Patin said Mr Zinni would tell the Palestinians
      their actions against militants was "encouraging" but must continue, while
      he would press Israel for an "easing up on travel for Palestinians".

      Israel says it has maintained a blockade of Palestinian towns and villages
      across the West Bank to stop attempts by Palestinian militants to
      infiltrate Israel and launch attacks.


      ========================
      Leonard Grossman
      http://LGrossman.com
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