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Crisis in the Middle East: Clinton to Meet With Arafat to Discuss Peace Deal

Aired January 2, 2001 - 1:37 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 is making what may be his very last push to stop the violence in the Middle East before his presidency expires this month. He will explain his plan in person to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in about one hour from now, at the White House.

Israel has already agreed to the U.S. proposal. Arafat arrived at Andrews Air Force Base this morning for his clarification of the proposal.

For more on what's at stake, we're joined by CNN national security correspondent David Ensor.

He's at the White House -- David.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie, the U.S. proposal takes the form of parameters, a general description of what sort of a peace deal the U.S. sees that could be made between Israel and the Palestinians in the next 18 or so days. The Palestinians say that it's not clear enough, that there's not enough detail, that they can't tell what it is exactly that they're agreeing to.

And Chairman Arafat is coming here to seek a lot more detail and clarity from the United States as to exactly what the U.S. proposes, on refugees, on Jerusalem, and on the many other issues that have to be resolved.

The U.S. describes -- U.S. officials I've been speaking to -- describe the meeting a little differently, and that may be the source of some problems today. The U.S. simply wants an answer from Chairman Arafat: Yes or no, does this set of parameters look like something that you think we could negotiate in the next 18 days and maybe get an agreement? Mr. Arafat has avoided given an answer to that question. He says he wants more answers himself first.

So there's a certain disconnect there, which hopefully will be resolved as this afternoon progress -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, we will wait to hear, David Ensor, watching that meeting this afternoon at the White House.

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