Clinton Seeks Role in Making Peace: Turns to Foreign Affairs Late in Term

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President Clinton, stymied on the domestic front, is turning to the international stage, hoping to be seen as a peacemaker and a force for free trade in the twilight of his second term.

Mr. Clinton will try to re-energize Middle East peace talks today as he meets in Oslo with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Mr. Clinton leaves Nov. 12 for a two-week trip to Europe, where he will visit Greece, Turkey, Italy and Bulgaria. In Turkey, he will attend a security summit with representatives from more than 50 nations.

At the end of this month, Mr. Clinton meets with world leaders in Seattle to kick off a new round of World Trade Organization talks. He reportedly will travel to India next February at the height of the presidential primaries.

From Oslo to Istanbul, Mr. Clinton is seeking to reassert his international influence following a setback in the defeat of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

"We must sustain America's leadership," Mr. Clinton said Friday during an address to the Anti-Defamation League in Atlanta.

The president said the Mideast peace process is "at a critical moment" and that Israel and its neighbors have a chance for peace "in the reasonably near future." But Mr. Clinton said it is a fleeting chance for peace.

A top aide to Mr. Arafat said the Palestinians will press the United States to play a direct role in peace talks with Israel. "We will ask for a continuing and effective American presence because not much time remains," said Nabil Abu Rudeina.

Mr. Clinton may also have a heightened sense of urgency. In speech after speech he laments that he cannot run for president again. Months after the Kosovo conflict, Mr. Clinton stresses his ideal of an interconnected world in which nations trade freely and cooperate to combat ethnic strife.

A sometimes bitter Mr. Clinton has accused Senate Republicans of "a new isolationism" for defeating the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, for sending him a foreign-aid bill that lacked $1.3 million to fund the Wye River accord and for refusing to approve his nomination of former Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun as ambassador to New Zealand. …