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As Clashes Continue Throughout Gaza and the West Bank, Barak and Arafat Meet with Albright in Paris

Aired October 4, 2000 - 1:21 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: In the Middle East today, Palestinian protesters and Israeli troops continued to clash throughout Gaza and the West Bank. The death toll now at least 55, and there is no end in sight. The violence has prompted a warning from the U.S. State Department. It cautions all Americans living or travelling abroad about possible protests in support of the Palestinians.

There is a diplomatic drive under way in Paris today aimed at ending this week-long violence.

CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour joins us now with what is happening -- Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, all day here the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, and the Palestinian Authority president, Yasser Arafat, have been meeting with the U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. The United States called this meeting, an emergency meeting to try to hammer out a way to end this spiraling cycle of violence in the Middle East.

Right now, for the last hour or so, we are told the three of them are having a meeting together: Barak, Arafat and Albright. This would constitute the first opportunity that Barak and Arafat have had to sit down and actually talk substantively since the collapsed Camp David Accords back in the summer.

They've met socially in passing, in the interim few weeks, but not on substance, and this would be the first time that they would have that opportunity. And the United States obviously is considering that progress, having got all three together -- two of them together under Madeleine Albright's auspices.

Earlier, after they had had their separate meetings, both sides came out and basically had their same public recriminations. Yasser Arafat had laid down preconditions before any kind of substantive talks or restarting the peace process could get under way. That was an immediate end to the hostilities that they wanted the Israelis to remove their heavy weapons, the tanks and helicopter gun ships, and other heavy weapons from areas close to Palestinian civilian areas, and that they wanted an international commission of inquiry to investigate what they blame as excessive use of Israeli military force. By the same token, Ehud Barak has said publicly that they should end the conflict right now, that it was technically possible to do, but that it would take a direct order from Yasser Arafat to his militia and police, ordering them to stop shooting, and ordering the violence to stop.

So we understand that that certainly has not happened yet. There has been no public call by Yasser Arafat, nor any removal of the Israeli weaponry, and the clashes do continue. And that is why the urgency here in Paris to get these two leaders to stop this violence and to try to jump start the basically -- the stalled peace process -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Christiane Amanpour reporting live from Paris.

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