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Announcement About Powell-Arafat Meeting Expected Soon

Aired April 13, 2002 - 11:02   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go to Andrea Koppel who is in Jerusalem. She's on the telephone now with more information on that planned meeting that could be announced. And there she is, live from Jerusalem on that planned meeting between Arafat and Colin Powell -- Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, CNN has learned from a senior administration official that an announcement is expected shortly from Secretary Powell's traveling party that that meeting will go ahead on Saturday (sic), that's tomorrow, between Secretary Powell and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. That meeting is expected to take place in Ramallah where Yasser Arafat has been under siege by Israeli forces now for going on more than two weeks.

And the Arab world putting a lot of pressure on the Bush administration to make sure that that meeting goes ahead, to basically show the international community that the Israeli attempts to isolate Arafat and to declare him illegitimate have not worked. So this is something that will be welcomed within the Arab world and certainly, Secretary Powell had been demanding from Yasser Arafat that he condemn Friday's suicide bombing here in Jerusalem before such a meeting could go forward. That statement was issued in Chairman Arafat's name earlier today here in Jerusalem.

And so, as I said, CNN has learned that the decision has been made by Secretary Powell's party for the meeting to go forward -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And Andrea, is it safe to say that because this planned meeting may be taking place now, for tomorrow, that the Bush administration or at least Secretary Powell feels that the condemnation coming from the Palestinians in that written statement is adequate for now?

KOPPEL: Well, it's adequate in terms of the suicide bombing that happened yesterday here in Jerusalem. It remains to be seen whether or not that statement will be considered adequate. I rather doubt it will as far as the general perception within the international community that Arafat has not been strong enough in speaking out against acts of terrorism perpetrated by Palestinian extremists. So I think that's something that's certainly going to be one of the main points of conversation during tomorrow's meeting, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks very much. Andrea Koppel from Jerusalem. Of course, we'll be checking with you throughout the day.

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