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Powell Meets With Arafat

Aired April 14, 2002 - 09:54   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.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf Blitzer from Jerusalem back with us, also CNN White House Correspondent Major Garrett. Gentlemen, thanks so much. No doubt an exhausting morning thus far. Wolf, are you hanging in there?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm happy to be with you.

PHILLIPS: All right.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let's get right to this and talk about a point that we hadn't brought up before, the peace - this comes from Leo. The peace mission of Secretary Powell is doomed to failure because Chairman Arafat is not only answerable to the Palestinian people but also to the whole Arab world. If there is no withdrawal from the areas formerly controlled by the Egyptians and the Jordanians by the Israelis there will never be peace in the area. The bottom is a withdrawal to the 1967 border. That's from Leo in Chesapeake. And before we talk about that 67 border, let's talk about the influences that the Arab world has on Yasser Arafat -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, I think the influences could be significant and that's why the secretary of state made a point of meeting with moderate Arab leaders, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco even before he showed up here in Jerusalem, went over to Ramallah earlier today to meet with the leader of the Palestinian authority Yasser Arafat.

He believes that one of the major mistakes that President Clinton made at the end of his administration going into the Camp David, the failed Camp David negotiations between then Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat is that he didn't cultivate -- that Clinton had not cultivated the Arab world enough to get that kind of support on board so that Arafat would not necessarily be isolated if he were to make a breakthrough agreement with the Israelis, and as a result, I think top administration officials now learned that if they want to get a deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians make sure you have those moderate Arab leaders in advance so they can help sure up the position that Arafat might find himself in.

PHILLIPS: Major, your thoughts.

MAJOR GARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the whole question of success and failure hangs very heavily over the secretary of states' mission and I think one things we've all been focusing on is one C, that's the cease-fire. I think there's another C that is very much on the minds of senior White House officials, that is containment. Making sure that this crisis does not become a multilevel, multinational crisis. That is to say it doesn't spill into Lebanon or to Syria.

We now have the announcement the secretary of state is going to go to Beirut. There is talk -- very aggressive talks he might also go to Damascus to meet the leader of Syria to talk about keeping Hezbollah and others from drawing, rather, Israel into a multi-front war buy firing over the borders and causing Israel to respond. Now that's already been happening for the entire week.

Vice President Cheney spoke on the phone on Monday to Bashar al Assad, the president of Syria, advising him, asking him that the United States very much wants Syria to step in and make sure Hezbollah does not make this situation worse. Secretary of state might in fact go to Damascus as well.

So as everyone evaluates what happens on the ground with Secretary of State Powell's mission understanding that one key goal for the administration is to make sure things don't get worse, also clearly to make sure things get better. But before they can get better, you have to contain what's going on, on the ground right now. And even incremental steps to keep talks going is pursuit of that goals, containment, and quite possibly can lay the foundation of some point for some real progress.

PHILLIPS: All right. Let's try and get both of you to respond to this one, from Chris Howers (ph), Melbourne, Florida. "Mr. Powell should tell the Palestinian leader to call Al-Jazeera and other Arabic media outlets and renounce terrorism in Arabic while he is standing there. If Arafat does not, Mr. Powell should halt talks and walk out."

Wolf, a lot of talk about whether Yasser Arafat should go on television or not. First time we've heard this about Mr. Powell.

BLITZER: Well, there's -- yesterday, when Miles was interviewing Saeb Erakat, he said why simply issue this press -- this piece of paper, this statement in Arabic renouncing terrorism among Israeli civilians and Palestinians. Why not allow a camera to go in to Arafat's headquarters and let him make a statement, a statement that would be broadcast not only around the world but especially in the Arab world? So far that hasn't happened. Miles, I don't know if you've gotten any formal response if that's going to happen. But I know, of course, we'd love to get our cameras in there and hear from Chairman Arafat himself. That's obviously that not easy.

O'BRIEN: All right. We're going to have to leave it that for now.

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