- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Arafat and matzo

Yasser Arafat sipped matzo ball soup at the home of a prominent Jewish-American last week and insisted he had never been a terrorist.
He also revealed he likes to relax by watching cartoons and tennis matches.
Such were the insights gleaned at dinner Friday night with the Palestinian leader at the embassy-sized Kalorama home of Esther Coopersmith, one of Washington's most well-connected hostesses and a leading Democrat.
Mr. Arafat told Ben Barber and Toni Marshall of The Washington Times that he saw no reason why Jerusalem could not serve as the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state.
"Jerusalem like Rome can be the capital of two states," he said, referring to Rome's role as capital of Italy and home of the Vatican.
"Although his lip was affected by a tremor, his replies revealed he remains alert as leader of the Palestinian Authority," Mr. Barber told Embassy Row.
ABC's Sam Donaldson, another dinner guest, posed the terrorism question, asking Mr. Arafat when he had renounced violence. Mr. Arafat maintained he had never been a terrorist, only a freedom fighter for the Palestinian people.
Mr. Arafat, who had met with President Clinton Thursday, told the dinner guests that he wanted the administration to "refocus on the Palestinian track" in the Middle East peace process. Palestinian issues have been overshadowed by the recent Israeli-Syrian talks.

Meanwhile in Israel

Martin Indyk has presented his diplomatic credentials for the second time as U.S. ambassador to Israel.
Mr. Indyk, former assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, met Sunday in Jerusalem with Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy to hand over the papers that accredit him for his second tour of duty there.
"I am delighted to be back in Israel and have my first meeting with Foreign Minister Levy," he told reporters.
"President Clinton and Secretary of State [Madeleine K.] Albright have sent me back here to Israel to work with the government of Israel on our common objective of achieving a comprehensive peace in short order," he said.
Mr. Indyk said he was optimistic about a resumption of the suspended Israel-Syria peace talks.
"I hope and believe that, because there is a common commitment from both the governments of Syria and Israel to try and achieve a peace agreement, that it will be possible to find a way to resume the negotiations and bring them to a successful conclusion," he said.
President Clinton renominated Mr. Indyk in October, saying he needed the veteran diplomat's "extensive experience." Mr. Indyk served as ambassador to Israel from 1995 to 1997.
Mr. Indyk is due to present his credentials to Israeli President Ezer Weizman during a protocol ceremony at a later date.
He replaced Edward Walker, who was nominated to Mr. Indyk's previous post.

Romania on line

Just in time for the arrival of Foreign Minister Petre Roman, the Romanian Embassy has revamped its Web site to supply on-line photos of his meeting today with Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and other highlights of his four-day Washington visit.
The site (www.roembus.org) contains a biographical sketch of Mr. Roman, along with his itinerary. Mr. Roman, who is also deputy prime minister, is also scheduled to meet today with National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger.
Embassy spokesman Stefan Maier, a computer engineer, helped redesign the Web site to feature the photo coverage of the visit. He said the photographs can be downloaded and printed out.

Canada calling

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien was in the neighborhood, so he thought he would drop by and visit President Clinton over the weekend.
"He stopped by this evening for a social visit," a White House official said Sunday.
Mr. Chretien stopped in Washington on his way back to Canada after a vacation in Florida.


The news conference for Javier Solana, secretary-general for foreign affairs of the European Union, has been rescheduled for 2 p.m. at the National Press Club tomorrow.

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