- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2000

ALGIERS, Algeria Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat insisted in an interview published yesterday that he will "never, never" retreat on his intention to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state in September.
The interview was published in the Saudi Gazette newspaper as Mr. Arafat arrived in Algeria for talks with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, saying he did not consider the Camp David summit a failure and urging Russia to play a role in future negotiations.
The interview, conducted Friday, was the first time since the collapse of the Camp David summit that Mr. Arafat reiterated that he would unilaterally declare an independent state on Sept. 13 if no deal with Israel is ironed out.
Asked whether he had changed his timetable, Arafat was quoted as saying: "Never, never. There is no retreat on the fixed timetable of the declaration of the state. It will be declared on the fixed time, which is September 13, God willing, regardless of those who agree or disagree."
Mr. Clinton, who sponsored the Camp David talks, threatened Friday that Washington would review its relationship with the Palestinians if Mr. Arafat presses ahead with plans to declare a state.
Mr. Arafat said Israeli "intransigence" was to blame for the failure of the Camp David talks last month and accused the Israeli government of refusing to come to terms with key issues, including the status of Jerusalem, according to APS, the official Algerian news agency.
Mr. Arafat met Mr. Bouteflika in Annaba, 370 miles east of Algiers, as part of a diplomatic tour of Arab capitals in search of support for his side in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Later, Mr. Arafat traveled to Khartoum, capital of Sudan, and was expected to travel later in the week to Egypt. He has also visited France, Saudi Arabia and other countries.
Mr. Arafat will visit Moscow on Aug. 10-12 and may seek to persuade Russia to take a more active role in the Mideast peace process, news reports said.
Mr. Arafat may meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but no definite schedule has been made, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
The main stumbling block between Israel and the Palestinians in reaching a permanent peace accord remains the status of Jerusalem.
The Palestinians demand sovereignty over traditionally Arab east Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war. Israel has long insisted that Jerusalem remain united under exclusive Israeli sovereignty.
In Riyadh, King Fahd told U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Edward Walker that it is impossible to have peace in the Middle East if Israel does not leave all Arab lands it captured, particularly east Jerusalem.
Mr. Walker visited Saudi Arabia as part of a two-week tour expected to include 14 Middle East nations in a bid to enlist support for the U.S. argument that the Palestinians need to make concessions in their talks with Israel.
An official Saudi source speaking on condition of anonymity said Mr. Fahd told Mr. Walker that the eastern part of Jerusalem must become the capital of a Palestinian state.

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