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Arafat orders halt to peace talks due to war on Iraq

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

RAMALLAH The Palestinian Authority has suspended formal negotiations with Israel and the United States on the launch of a renewal of peace efforts and the establishment of an independent state.

Palestinian officials said PA Chairman Yasser Arafat has ordered a halt to all open contacts with Israel and the United States on the so-called roadmap, which outlines steps for an end to the Israeli-Palestinian war and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Officials quoted Arafat as saying that the suspension of peace efforts would continue until the end of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

"Arafat does not want to show Iraq that the United States is a legitimate partner while it is destroying Baghdad," a PA official said. "So right now, everything is on hold."

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Officials expect formal talks on the roadmap to resume by the end of the month, Middle East Newsline reported. Despite its support for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the PA expects the United States to destroy his regime within the next two weeks.

Arafat, however, has discussed the roadmap with non-U.S. representatives. On late Tuesday, the PA chairman met European Union envoy Miguel Moratinos in Ramallah. Arafat's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said the chairman accused Israel of continuing attacks on Palestinians.

Abu Rudeineh, however, did not refer to the roadmap. On Thursday, representatives from the United States, United Nations, EU and Russia plan to discuss the roadmap in Brussels.

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