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CNN Today

Middle East Peace Summit Sidelined

Aired October 11, 2000 - 1:33 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: President Clinton's hopes for a Mideast peace summit are still being largely rebuffed in the region. But, while the president may be sidelined, he is not disengaged.

Here is CNN White House correspondent Kelly Wallace.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KELLY WALLACE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Clinton told reporters he or his secretary of state might travel to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, but indicated a summit meeting was not imminent.

WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My goal is to stop people dying and then get them back together.

WALLACE: The president continues working the phones, but has so far been unable to pull together a proposed Mideast summit.

He talked with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan Wednesday morning about Annan's meetings with both sides and sounded encouraged by the drop in violence.

CLINTON: We've had a couple of pretty good days. People are really trying.

WALLACE: As a precondition for talks, the Palestinian's want an international commission with representatives of Arab states to investigate the violence.

Israelis would only accept a U.S.-led inquiry.

CLINTON: We have to reach an agreement on, you know, this fact- finding effort to determine what happened and how to keep it from happening again. And I think we can do that.

WALLACE: Finally, Mr. Clinton rebuffed critics who have blamed some of the violence on his failed Camp David talks, charging that that summit was called too soon.

CLINTON: I think if there had been no talks at Camp David, it would be worse now because the pressure on the Palestinians to unilaterally declare a state would have been far worse; because their level of misunderstanding would have been even greater. WALLACE (on camera): U.S. officials say the president doesn't want to hold a meeting just for a meeting's sake. They say his decision about diplomatic next steps will be based on what would help end the violence and get the parties back to the peace table.

Kelly Wallace, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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