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U.S. shuttle diplomacy in Mideast

JERUSALEM -- Senior U.S. diplomat William Burns is starting a second day of mediation seeking an end to eight months of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

The meeting is likely to be held Monday night with second tier security officials from both sides, officials familiar with the talks told CNN.

In the Bush administration's first foray into Mideast shuttle diplomacy, Burns met Sunday with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

After meeting Arafat in the morning, Burns told reporters there were "complex and difficult challenges for both parties who must ultimately be the ones that make the decisions required to break the cycle of violence and get back to negotiations."


CNN's Sheila MacVicar on what U.S. diplomacy hopes to achieve

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U.S. diplomat William Burns: U.S. condemns terrorist attacks

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The new U.S. initiative was set against a backdrop of continuing violence with two car bombs, claimed by Islamic militants, exploding in Jerusalem over the weekend. Two people were hit by flying glass and more than 20 others were treated for shock.

Burns said he had condemned such "terrorist attacks" in his talks with Arafat and had strongly urged the Palestinian leader to do everything possible to stop such actions.

He called for Sharon to continue his policy of restraint, announced last week, with actions such as the car bombings having previously drawn harsh military reprisals on Palestinian targets.

Burns, a career diplomat who has served as ambassador to Jordan, also urged both sides to implement the recommendations of an international committee, led by former U.S. senator George Mitchell, into the violence published last week.

The Mitchell report called for an immediate, unconditional cessation of violence followed by a cooling-off period, confidence-building measures and a resumption of peace negotiations.

The Palestinian uprising has so far claimed more than 500 lives -- the vast majority Palestinian -- since it began in September.

Following Burns' first meeting with Sharon, Israeli Cabinet Secretary Gideon Saar said that the "unilateral cease-fire" Israel announced last week would continue, but that Sharon had told Burns that "this 'letting it pass' stage can't continue forever."

Avi Pazner, an adviser to Sharon, said the Palestinians had not reciprocated in the cease-fire. "Since Sharon declared a cease-fire four days ago, we have had about a dozen terrorist activities," he said.

"Apparently this is the answer of the Palestinian Authority to our gesture of peace," Pazner said, "and I must tell you that our patience has limits as we are witnessing an escalation of a war of terror against us."

Palestinians have dismissed the initiative as propaganda.

The Associated Press reported that the Palestinians claimed to have compiled a list of 45 incidents of Israeli aggression since the cease-fire was announced.

• Israel Defense Forces
• Palestinian National Authority
• Palestinian Red Crescent
• Israeli Prime Minister
• The White House

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