- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2002

The United States remained at odds yesterday with the European Union, Russia and the United Nations, with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanding security for Israel as a prerequisite for political negotiations on a day when terrorists killed seven more Israelis.
A joint statement issued yesterday after the meeting of ministers of the Quartet the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York reflected the EU point of view that "progress in the political, security, economic, humanitarian, and institution-building fields must proceed together, hand-in-hand."
However Mr. Powell, in a press conference after the meeting, restated the U.S. view that suicide bombings must end before political progress can begin.
"There has to be a security track; there has to be a humanitarian and economic development track; and there has to be a political track," Mr. Powell said.
"Everything really, though, begins with creating a better sense of security," he said.
The United States and the European Union did agree that humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians was needed immediately, and they pledged to continue work on task forces created last week with the intention of delivering aid.
U.S. and Israeli officials, however, remain opposed to aid deliveries through the Palestinian Authority as long as Yasser Arafat controls it.
American and Israeli officials believe any money that Mr. Arafat's organization obtains could fund terrorism.
The meeting began shortly after Palestinians attacked a bus near the West Bank settlement of Emmanuel, killing seven and injuring 14.
The first of three separate statements issued by Palestinian groups to claim responsibility for the bombing of an armored settlers' bus and machine gunning of its passengers came from the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a branch of Mr. Arafat's Fatah movement.
Mr. Powell told reporters that the Quartet did not discuss Mr. Arafat the Palestinian leader whose ouster President Bush demanded June 24 as the necessary condition for peace.
Mr. Powell said Mr. Arafat's future "is a choice, a decision that ultimately will have to be made by the Palestinian people."
Mr. Powell stressed the need for security for Israel. He also echoed the European belief that without political progress, it may be impossible to persuade Palestinians not to become suicide bombers.
"We know that ultimately we must arrive at a political settlement to this conflict because, as we all agree there is no military solution," he told reporters.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said progress on security will not end the violence without progress on political and humanitarian tracks.
The Quartet meeting included Mr. Powell, Mr. Annan, EU senior diplomat Javier Solana, EU President Per Stig Moller of Denmark and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.
The Russian foreign minister echoed the U.N. and EU view that neither the U.S. government nor Israel has the right to demand that Mr. Arafat be ousted from power.
The Quartet members were to meet later yesterday with Foreign Ministers Marwan Muasher of Jordan and Ahmed Maher of Egypt.
The two Arab ministers then were to travel to Washington for meetings tomorrow with Mr. Bush and Mr. Powell, accompanied by Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Faisal.

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