SPAIN: USA EUROPEAN UNION AND RUSSIA CALL FOR ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL FROM PALESTINIAN AREAS
- Title: SPAIN: USA EUROPEAN UNION AND RUSSIA CALL FOR ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL FROM PALESTINIAN AREAS
- Date: 11th April 2002
- Summary: (W3) MADRID, SPAIN (APRIL 10, 2002) (REUTERS) (FOR DETAILED SHOTLIST ITEMS 1 - 17 SEE PROD 5202/02): SLV EXTERIOR OF MONCLOA PRESIDENTIAL PALACE; SLV JOURNALISTS AWAITING ARRIVALS MV UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL ARRIVING / GREETED BY SPANISH FOREIGN MINISTER JOSEP PIQUE E.U. AND U.S. FLAGS FAMILY PHOTO INSIDE MONCLOA PRESIDENTIAL PALACE VARIOUS OF COLIN POWELL, JOSEP PIQUE, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IGOR IVANOV, UN SECRETARY GENERAL KOFI ANNAN, EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF JAVIER SOLANA AND SPANISH PRIME MINISTER JOSE MARIA AZNAR POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS CAMERAS WIDE OF ROUND TABLE OF MEETING VARIOUS OF THE MEETING
- Reuters ID: LVACRJYR0GPL9SHDKCMOEBUAZHIO
- Location: MADRID, SPAIN
- Country: Spain
- Duration: 00:01:00
- Topics: Conflict,General,Politics
- Story Text: The United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations have called on Israel to withdraw its forces immediately from Palestinian cities in the West Bank. They also urged Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to do everything possible to halt attacks against Israeli civilians.
U.S Secretary of State Colin Powell said it was important for him to meet Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat during his current mission to try to halt fighting in the Middle East.
The calls were made in a joint statement after a meeting in Madrid on Wednesday (April 10, 2002) between U.S.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar representing the EU, and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
The statement, from the so-called "quartet" of countries and organisations attempting to mediate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, represents one of the weightiest international calls yet to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
They are urging Sharon to halt his military offensive in the West Bank which began on March 29.
The call for "immediate" withdrawal was stronger than U.S.
President George W. Bush's earlier plea for a pullout "without delay".
The E.U., Russia and the U.N. gave their support to Powell's peace mission to Israel later this week and urged both Israelis and Palestinians to cooperate fully with him.
Powell flew to Spain from Egypt where he said on Tuesday (April 9) he intended to meet Arafat later this week.
But a fresh surge of violence in the Middle East, including the death of at least eight people in a suicide bombing on an Israeli bus on Wednesday (April 10) and the killing of 13 Israeli soldiers in an ambush by Palestinian militants on Tuesday (April 9), have cast a pall over his much-anticipated peace mission.
Reading a statement, Annan said: "We call on Israel to halt immediately its military operations. We call for an immediate meaningful ceasefire and immediate Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian cities, including Ramallah, specifically including Chairman Arafat's headquarters."
Arafat has been besieged in his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah since the Israelis began their offensive.
"We call on Chairman Arafat, to undertake immediately the maximum possible effort to stop terror attacks against innocent Israelis. We call on the Palestinian Authority to act decisively and take all possible steps within its capacity to dismantle terrorist infrastructure, including terrorist financing, and to stop incitement to violence," Annan said.
The statement urged Arafat to authorise his representatives to resume immediately security coordination with Israel: "Terrorism, including suicide bombs, is illegal and immoral".
Powell told media the United States was determined to bring the two sides back to the negotiating table and that the U.S. would be willing to put in monitors once the peace process starts.
"As you may recall from G8 summit last year when it was discussed, the United States indicated it would be willing to put in place US monitors at the beginning of the Tennet process, the Mitchell process and that still remains our position and I think some limited US presence would be acceptable to both sides and once we get started we might take a look what else might be done to allow the two sides to have confidence in what the other side is doing to keep the process going on," Powell said.
Powell said the United States was not considering sanctions against Israel, unlike the E.U., whose officials have raised the possibility they could suspend E.U. trade privileges for Israel.
In their statement, the quartet expressed great concern about the situation in the region, including the mounting humanitarian crisis and growing risk to regional security.
"We reiterate our shared condemnation of violence and terrorism (and) express our deep distress at the loss of innocent Palestinian and Israeli lives," the statement said.
They also expressed grave concern about recent attacks from Lebanon and urged all parties to show restraint.
The quartet said there was no military solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and called on all sides to move towards a political resolution of their disputes based on U.N.
Security Council resolutions.
They reaffirmed support for the objective of two states, Israel and a Palestinian state, "living side by side within secure and recognised borders".
They called on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to reach agreement on ceasefire proposals put forward by U.S.
mediator Anthony Zinni "without further delay".
They said the Tenet and Mitchell plans must be fully implemented, including an end to the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.
They were referring to a truce plan drawn up by CIA director George Tenet and a blueprint for peace created under former U.S. Senator George Mitchell.
As the talks took place, scores of anti-U.S. protesters staged a noisy demonstration in front of the U.S. embassy, calling for the United States to stop supporting Israel. The protesters chanted anti-American slogans and held placards with slogans reading "Bush and Sharon - Lovers".
At a news conference after signing a U.S.-Spanish defence cooperation agreement, Powell told journalists,"I believe that it is important for me to meet with Chairman Arafat. He is the leader of the Palestinian people, and I think the Palestinian people and the Arab leaders with whom I've met over the last several days believe he is the partner that Israel will have to deal with at some point, he and the other leaders of the Palestinian Authority," he added.
The reality is that no other Palestinian leader, or, for that matter, Arab leader, is prepared to engage as a partner until Mr Arafat has had a chance to express his views to me and to others," he said.
"So, I hope there will be no difficulties in arranging a meeting with Chairman Arafat. I think, if we are going to move forward, such a meeting is appropriate and important," he said.
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