Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Arab League Backs Albright's Stance, Land from Israel for Peace

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Arab League Backs Albright's Stance, Land from Israel for Peace

Article excerpt

The Arab League urged Israel to accept the principle of land for peace Sunday and endorsed efforts by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to restart deadlocked Middle East peace talks.

In a final statement issued after the three-day meeting, the league's council praised Albright's "constructive position" on Mideast peace talks. The council is the ruling body made up of members' foreign ministers.

"The council welcomes the new American position as expressed by Secretary Albright during her visit and there was a consensus to cooperate with the American policies which she expressed," the statement said. Although Albright's views are essentially in line with past American policies, she has spoken more forcefully in urging Israel to compromise. The Arab League praised this stance. The council's biannual meeting followed Albright's visit to the region this month and the recent opening of a new Jewish settlement in an Arab neighborhood of east Jerusalem that has outraged Palestinians. The statement condemned "Israel's fierce settlement program" in a reference to the settlement in Ras al-Amud neighborhood. It said the league expected Israel to take "essential" steps toward peace and not only "formal or superficial" ones, and criticized what it called procrastination by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But after three days of discussions, the council failed to agree on a unified stance regarding a November regional economic meeting in the Gulf emirate of Qatar, controversial because Israel will take part. Though the meeting was not mentioned in the statement, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said the council decided that the meeting could not go ahead unless some movement took place in the peace talks. Other Arab governments have recommended a boycott or cancellation of the meeting because Israel is taking part. The statement also ignored Turkish-Israeli military maneuvers scheduled for November that have worried Arab countries. (begin THREE STAR text) But Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa said that the foreign ministers expressed "deep concerns" and urged Turkey to abandon plans for the maneuvers. …

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