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Erekat Makes Remarks to the Press Following Meeting with Powell

Aired August 8, 2002 - 15:20   ET

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


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta. We want to take you to Washington where Secretary of State Colin Powell is addressing reporters there, talking about his meetings with Palestinian leaders. You are now looking at and listening to lead negotiator of Palestinian -- lead negotiator, rather, Saeb Erekat.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SAEB EREKAT, PALESTINIAN NEGOTIATOR: ...and I would like to say this, that the secretary of the Palestinian reform is Palestinian reform. It's done for Palestinian interests by Palestinian will, and it's not being dictated by anybody. And we hope that this reform will be helped and encouraged by stopping the terrorist reform that the Israeli occupation constitute, as far as our towns, villages which have turned into the biggest prison in history.

It's really ironic that today about 50 percent of Palestinian children under the age of five are facing malnutrition. Forty-eight percent of Palestinian women are anemic. One-third of the Palestinian population live on hand-outs. There's a serious threat for outbreak of diseases. The secretary is very well aware of this, and we appreciate the fact that the secretary spoke to the secretary-general in order to see what can be done to alleviate this human disaster that's engulfing 3.3 million Palestinians at this time.

The secretary assured me and asked me to convey to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian leadership the commitment of this administration, as far as the political track whether outlined by President Bush's speech at the United Nations, or Secretary Powell's speech in November. And also the Prince Abdullah's initiative, which was adopted by the Arab League, 242338, that the end game is specified with a Palestinian state. We really hope to see an action plan that will define the time lines, the mechanism for implementation and the way stations that will take us towards this end game.

We assured the secretary of Palestinian commitment to peace, to reviving the peace process, and to put it back on track because that's the real interests of Palestinians and Israelis. And we must begin a process of de-escalation and the confliction (ph) with the help of four parties that are interested. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

WHITFIELD: You have been listening to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat after meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell. They met today at the State Department to talk about how to get the peace process back on track. Saeb Erekat said he has assured the secretary that Palestinian authority is committed to peace and is ready to put the peace process back on track.

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