Arabs Preparing to Return to U.S. Talks With Israelis

from Associated Press

Arab delegations made plans Tuesday to resume Middle East peace negotiations here with Israel. The Bush Administration suggested that the Arabs move more quickly.

"So far the Israeli delegation has arrived," State Department spokeswoman Margaret D. Tutwiler said. "It is the only delegation that has arrived in Washington. It is disappointing that the other parties are not present to begin these important talks."

A spokesman for the Jordanian Embassy said, meanwhile, that negotiations probably will not resume until next week.

They had been set to start Tuesday. But the Arabs stayed home to protest Israel's decision to expel 12 Palestinians accused of inciting terrorism against Jews in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

On Monday, with U.S. support, the U.N. Security Council condemned the planned deportations.

Hasan Abdul Rahman, a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization, said afterward, "This will pave the way for the resumption of the talks."

In fact, Jordan, Syria and the PLO all announced that the negotiations will be resumed. Bassam abu Sharif, political adviser to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat at PLO headquarters in Tunisia, said that all Arab delegations will be going to Washington within 24 hours.

On the West Bank, Hannan Ashrawi, spokeswoman for the Palestinian negotiators, said they will leave today for Amman and then for Washington.

Tutwiler told reporters: "We continue to urge the parties to resume negotiations at the earliest possible opportunity."

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