Christopher pleased with Netanyahu, Arafat meeting
September 7, 1996
Web posted at: 3:00 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT)
LONDON (CNN) -- On the eve of a meeting in London with
Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy, U.S. Secretary of State
Warren Christopher called on Israel to ease the closure of
its borders to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Assessing the outcome of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's
first meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat,
Christopher said he hoped it would provide momentum for a
peace process that has been sharply curtailed since the
right-wing Israeli leader took office. (408K AIFF or WAV sound)
"I'd like to see a substantial easing of the closure," he
told reporters. "I think that's something that's quite
likely, now that they're meeting and talking together, and
the Israelis can get a greater appreciation of the
difficulties of the closure."
Christopher also said he hoped Netanyahu would develop the
kind of "comfortable" relationship with Arafat shared by his
predecessors Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with Christopher and President
Clinton in Washington on Monday.
On other issues, Christopher said that Turkey has "genuine
reasons" to establish a protection zone across a narrow strip
of northern Iraq. There is adequate reason, he said, for
Turkey to fear possible attacks from Kurdish Workers' Party
guerrillas, who want to carve an independent state out of
"We understand their reasons for doing so, and we've been
reassured the situation will only be temporary and their
forces will not be stationed there," he said.
The secretary, however, stopped short of approving Turkey's
move to mass troops along its border with Iraq.
Christopher also said he was "disappointed" in Russia's
condemnation of the U.S. missile attacks on Iraqi defense and
communication sites last week, saying that apparently the
Russians "don't understand as we do that the only language
that Saddam understands is the language of force."
"I think they regard (Saddam's conduct) as being reckless and
dangerous," he said. "I was disappointed they didn't
understand the necessity of taking forceful action."
CNN Correspondent Steve Hurst and Reuters contributed to this report.
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