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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Nov. 13, 1996 V4, #206
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Q. What is the difference between heroin and Abraham?

A. One is the juice of the poppy; the other is the Poppy of the Jews.

Christopher Pushes for Peace

By David Gollust (VOA-Paris)

Secretary of State Warren Christopher says the United States will not relent in its pursuit of a comprehensive Middle East peace during President Clinton's second term. Christopher is now in Paris after his 21st -- and in all probability his last -- Middle East visit as secretary of state.

Christopher met senior Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Cairo in an unsuccessful attempt to conclude a long-delayed agreement on an Israeli pullback from the West Bank town of Hebron.

The secretary and his entourage had hoped for a breakthrough on Hebron during the 24-hour Cairo stop. But US officials said there was no discernible progress from the separate meetings with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy.

At a brief news conference, Christopher said he was more concerned about reaching an equitable deal than concluding it before his term as secretary of state comes to an end:

"I don't want to tie anything to my own schedule. I think it's important that a Hebron agreement be reached, but that it be right and fair and one that's do-able when it is finally reached. But I have confidence that it will be reached."

US officials say the negotiations are covering not only the terms of an Israeli redeployment from Hebron, but related issues -- including Israel's frequent closures of Palestinian areas and its resistance to the Palestinian drive to open an international airport in Gaza.

The secretary instructed US envoy Dennis Ross to remain in Cairo for a few days to try to further the dialogue, but officials said Ross had no intention of spending weeks in the area -- as he has in the recent past -- trying to bridge the gaps.

Christopher made clear there would be no let-up in the Clinton administration's commitment to Middle East peacemaking, despite his imminent departure. He said his successor at the State Department will be similarly engaged to, as he put it, "close the circle of peace" in the region:

"The peace process cannot stand still. It needs to be in motion. It needs to be moving forward lest it not move backward through some untoward incidents. The United States will do its part. I think President Clinton is pledged in his second term to continue to be active in the peace process."

Christopher was in Cairo for the opening of the third annual Middle East Economic Conference designed to reinforce Arab-Israeli peace efforts with regional trade agreements.

Middle East Economic Conference Calls for Peace

By Laurie Kassman (VOA-Cairo)

The third annual Middle East and North Africa economic conference opened Tuesday in Cairo with calls for lasting peace and durable prosperity for the region. But the stalemated peace process in the Middle East has overshadowed the meeting, where more than 3,000 business leaders, government officials and international financiers have gathered to look at business prospects in the region.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak opened the 3-day forum with a reminder that the Middle East is at a critical crossroads in its history with no alternative but peace in its future.

Klaus Schwab, whose World Economic Forum organized the conference, calls the Cairo meeting a forceful rally of business leaders for peace and prosperity.

Secretary of State Warren Christopher underlined just how far the region has moved toward full Arab-Israeli peace since the process was launched five years ago. But he says more needs to be done.

Christopher said integrating the region will make war less likely. But the Cairo meeting takes place under a general cloud of gloom that surrounds the stalemated peace process.

Ireland's foreign minister, Dick Spring, won a special round of applause when he appealed for Israel to make peace with its Arab neighbors, based on the principle of land for peace. The audience applauded again when he insisted that a regional peace must include economic benefits for Palestinians.

Several Palestinian business executives are boycotting the conference to protest Israel's continual closure of the West Bank and Gaza, which is crippling their economy.

Still, Egyptian officials are highlighting the positive and stressing the unusually high turnout of business leaders from inside and outside the region. The 3-day meeting aims at making the Middle East and North Africa more competitive in the global market for investment and development.

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