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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                      Dec. 12, 1995, V3, #225
All the News the Big Guys Missed

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USA will Train Israeli Astronaut

By David McAlary (VOA-Washington)

President Clinton announced Israel will participate in the US space program. He told reporters during a news conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres the cooperation would involve joint scientific research in space, some of it with Israeli astronauts.

Clinton indicated Israelis would be among the astronauts and cosmonauts from several countries working aboard the planned international space station. But before that happens, US and Israeli crews and scientists will cooperate in preliminary research.

"As part of our efforts to support Israel's advances in science and technology, I have today agreed with Prime Minister Peres to proceed with space-based experiments in sustainable water use and environmental protection. These experiments would take place in unmanned space vehicles, in the shuttle program, and in the international space station. As a part of this effort, we will also train Israeli astronauts to participate in these programs."

A NASA spokesman says that, at the moment, one Israeli would be trained for a shuttle mission. News reports in israel identify him as 31-year-old Eran Schenker, a physician and amateur pilot.

For the past six months, Schenker has been studying space medicine in a three-year program sponsored by NASA at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He has also taken flight training at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. But despite the publicity about him, the Israeli physician says his future in the US and Israeli space programs is uncertain.

"My role is not clear yet. I'm involved in human research regarding space and earth. It's unclear where it will go. There

[are]  no  mission dates, and I was not  selected to be an
astronaut --  not  by NASA,  not by Israel.  I have to take
consideration if that's really what I want to do in my life.  For
now, I'm really enjoying the training and I'm improving myself, my skills in medicine. When the time comes, I have to decide if that's the role I want to take."

Clinton Predicts a Middle East 'New Reality'

By David Borgida (VOA-Washington)

President Clinton is expressing optimism that what he calls a "fundamental new reality" can bring progress to stalled negotiations on the Israeli-Syria peace process. His comments came during a joint news conference following talks at the White House with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. The president is sending Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Damascus and Jerusalem with the hopes of moving the process forward.

Clinton's first official meeting with Peres since the assassination last month of Yitzhak Rabin yielded little in the way of specific, detailed proposals for Christopher to promote. But following talks that senior US officials say focused almost exclusively on the Israeli-Syria peace process, new hope was expressed for an improved negotiating atmosphere.

After this White House meeting, during which Clinton spoke by telephone for about 10 minutes with Syrian President Hafez al Assad, Clinton said all sides want to accelerate their efforts to break the impasse on the Syrian-Israeli peace track. That impasse centers on Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

Israel is looking for firm security and diplomatic arrangements should it withdraw forces from the key border area with Syria. Assad wants a public commitment by Peres to return all of the territory Syria lost 28 years ago.

Both Clinton and Peres Monday brushed aside specific questions about this. But the president spoke of new hope in the Mideast peace process. "I think the Syrian leader and the Syrian people now see the exceptional price that former Prime Minister Rabin and Prime Minister Peres have been willing to pay in their search for peace. I think that is the fundamental new reality here. I don't think any of the details matter nearly as much as that fundamental new reality."

For his part, Peres, describing Christopher's diplomatic mission as a "possible new opportunity," expressed the hope that Assad will "join us soon on this historic journey. There is no time now for a political vacation. We don't intend to rest. We intend to continue the momentum, full speed ahead."

Peres delivers a speech to Congress today.

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