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Solana: 'A moment of truth for Arafat'

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana left a meeting with Yasser Arafat Tuesday saying the Palestinian leader pledged to crack down on terrorism.

Solana said he met not only with Arafat but also with leaders of Palestinian security in Gaza and the West Bank.

"In the meetings today, I have seen a strategic decision by the leaders of the Palestinian Authority to work against terrorism and dismantle the organization that reports terrorist acts. I think that is a very, very important decision," Solana told CNN.

After meeting with Yasser Arafat, the EU foreign policy chief told CNN's Chris Burns that the Palestinian leader pledged to fight terrorism (December 12)

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"It is a moment of truth for Mr. Arafat and for many more people," Solana said, noting he hopes the actions would be carried out not just in theory but also in practice.

"The people have to be arrested, they have to be placed in prison and they have to be interrogated properly. And I hope that will be done," he said.

The European Union has labeled the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist networks that need to be dismantled by Arafat. Solana said there is no fixed time when the organizations need to be broken up.

But, he said, the two security chiefs for Gaza and the West Bank have developed plans to arrest suspected terrorists in operations that are to intensify in the following days.

"They have shown to me at least the determination to take a strategic decision," Solana said.

Asked if Arafat's credibility would be undermined if he cannot carry through, Solana said, "I would like to think he would be able to conduct this process forward."

Earlier, Solana met separately with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

The EU has called on Israel to back off on the assassinations of suspected Palestinian militants and the building of Israeli settlements.

Solana said that in their meeting the prime minister made no such guarantees. But he said he believes Sharon is "of the decision to give some time to" Arafat to fight terrorists.


• Israeli Government
• Palestinian Authority
• European Union
• U.S. Department of State
• The White House
• United Nations

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