Barak urges Clinton to use his influence

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak appealed to President Clinton on Sunday to do all he can to end a violent confrontation with the Palestinians.

But Barak didn’t ask Clinton to prod Yasser Arafat for a public statement urging Palestinians to halt riots and rock-throwing that have prompted a deadly Israeli response, a senior U.S. official said.

Earlier Sunday, at an Islamic conference in the Persian Gulf country of Qatar, Arafat vowed that a "jihad and the resistance of the occupation" against Israel would be continued.

Emerging from a meeting of more than two hours with Clinton, Barak said Israel expected the governments and people of the free world "to make their own judgment about whether a jihad or a negotiated agreement is the right way to solve conflict."

Clinton saw Barak to the door of the White House and they shook hands. The president made no statement afterward.

But a senior official, briefing reporters under rules that cloaked his identity, said Clinton and Barak had agreed there was no military solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

The president made the same point in his meeting with Arafat at the White House on Thursday, the official said.

Clinton is determined to find a formula for ending the six-week outbreak and is in the process of deciding whether to send an envoy to the region or to take some other specific steps, the official said.

The official suggested Clinton had accepted the burden of terminating the conflict that has taken nearly 200 lives. There was no discussion of holding another summit, the official said.

In a brief exchange with reporters, Barak said Israel had been prepared at the summit Clinton hosted in July at Camp David to consider "far-reaching ideas" to promote peace, but now "we do hear different signals from the Arab side."

The main goal now, he said, was to put an end to the violence by implementing a truce Arafat and he agreed to at an emergency summit last month in Egypt.

Barak, whose arrival in Washington was delayed by a hijacking crisis back home that wound up being resolved while he was en route, gave no indication, though, that the White House meeting would help end the bloodshed.

The Israeli leader, who arrived after nightfall at Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland and went directly to the White House, was expected to ask Clinton to put heat on Arafat to make a public declaration that the Palestinians should not attack Israeli soldiers and civilians.

But the senior U.S. official said Barak made no specific request.

Clinton, meanwhile, was departing Mtoday for an economic meeting in Brunei followed by the first presidential visit to communist Vietnam since the war’s end in 1975.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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