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Peace Talks at a Glance

<i> Here's what happened Wednesday concerning the Middle East peace conference in Madrid</i> :

HISTORIC MOMENT: Top officials of Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Palestinians sat around the same table for the first time in history and listened to the same speeches without walking out or issuing threats.

BUSH ENTREATY: President Bush implored Israelis and Arabs to strike a deal centered on territorial compromise and permanent treaties. He laid out a timetable for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, urging completion of terms for limited self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in a year’s time. He then headed back to Washington.

BAKER’S REVIEW: Secretary of State James A. Baker III, who spent months setting up the conference, said that Israel and the Arabs were still squabbling about the site of the face-to-face talks, which the U.S. wants to begin on Sunday after these initial rounds of discussions conclude.

PALESTINIAN CLASHES: PLO activists supporting the peace talks battled hard-line factions with knives and metal bars in Gaza City, one of a series of clashes that flared with the start of Arab-Israeli talks in Madrid. In other unrest in Israel and the occupied territories, soldiers shot and killed an Arab protester in Hebron and at least two soldiers were injured by rocks in an anti-Israel demonstration.

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LEBANON PROTEST: Palestinians went on strike and burned tires in refugee camps on orders of hard-line Palestinian guerrilla factions opposed to the talks. In Beirut, 12,000 anti-conference demonstrators marched to the abandoned U.S. Embassy compound and burned American and Israeli flags.

IRAN’S THREAT: Iran’s spiritual leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, condemned the Middle East peace talks as traitorous and threatened participants with “the wrath of nations.”


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