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Mideast summit ends on inconclusive note

CAIRO, EGYPT — CAIRO, Egypt -- The prime minister of Israel and three Arab leaders emerged from a summit here last night with little public evidence of having rejuvenated the peace process.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa declared the "Palestinian-Israeli peace process is back on track." But the four leaders -- Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel, Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Hussein -- left without the usual joint press conference.

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"If you expected that after two or three hours, we are going to deal with all the problems, you are mistaken," Mr. Moussa said in reply to questions about the lack of an announcement of any specific agreements. "But at least we opened the door."

Mr. Moussa said the leaders agreed to a series of additional contacts, including a meeting Feb. 9 between Mr. Rabin and Mr. Arafat at the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. There is also to be a meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Israel and Jordan plus a representative of the PLO in Washington on Feb. 12, a senior State Department official announced in Washington.

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But in Cairo, the Egyptians, who had billed this quickly arranged

summit as a dramatic bid to rescue a collapsing peace process, were hard-pressed to say how the latest five-hour session had helped.

"Before, the process between the Israelis and the Palestinians was frozen -- now it is no more frozen," Mr. Moussa said.

The end of the long Arab-Israeli conflict seemed close last year, when Israel added formal peace agreements with the Palestinians and Jordanians to its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt.

But Israel, citing a series of bomb attacks against its citizens, has balked at carrying out the withdrawals called for in its peace agreement with the Palestinians. Its relations with Egypt have chilled because of Israel's refusal to open its nuclear program to inspection, and negotiations with Syria have stalled.

In a statement issued after the meeting in Cairo, the four leaders pledged to "reaffirm their determination to continue" the Middle East peace process.

But Mr. Moussa said the meeting did not include discussion of "specific ways and means."

There was no announcement that Israel's closure of the West Bank and Gaza Strip would be lifted, as Mr. Arafat wanted. Neither was there a strong condemnation of terrorist attacks by Mr. Arafat, as Israel wanted.

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Jewish settlements in the West Bank were the subject of "long discussion," Mr. Moussa said. He said the Arab parties insisted Jewish settlements abide by "international law," which outlaw land confiscations in militarily occupied areas.


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