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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       March 11, 1996 V4, #45
All the News the Big Guys Missed

World's Nations will Meet in Sinai's Sharm el-Sheik

By Jane Berger (VOA-Washington) & Peyman Pejman (VOA-Cairo)

Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres have expressed hope the conference on terrorism in Egypt this week will revive the Middle East peace process. The men were questioned on NBC's Meet the Press and ABC's This Week with David Brinkley.

Christopher said participants in the Middle East conference must renew the peace process because it is the only long-term answer to terrorism.

More than 30 heads of state and governments are expected to attend the meeting, which was organized after a series of recent suicide bombings by Islamic militants in Israel threatened to derail Mideast peace talks.

Christopher welcomed the recent crackdown by Palestinian security forces against the military wing of Hamas, which is responsible for the bombing attacks. The secretary said Palestinian President Yasir Arafat is working hard to deal with the situation.

"We want 100-percent effort from him. Whether you can have 100-percent result, of course, is very difficult when you are dealing with suicide bombers. But we need to keep pressing him to take the tough steps that he needs to take. There was a time when I believe Arafat thought he might be able to deal with Hamas by dialogue, by trying to bring them into the political process. That turns out to have been a mistake. It did not succeed. And now he needs to take the other tack. And one thing this conference can do is firm him up in the decision to move aggressively against the military wing of Hamas."

In a separate interview, Peres said all parties should press ahead with the peace process, despite the wave of terrorist attacks against Israel.

"Maybe we are at the last step of the peace process. And no wonder that all the parties that oppose peace, that are afraid of peace, are mobilizing whatever they may to bring an end to it, when it is its own end. I do believe that even if we do have to cause this part of the world, which is full of mines and hatred and killing and really terrible experience, we should not give up because there are some very important changes that one should not overlook. I never saw such an expression of condemnation against terror as the sympathy toward Israel all over the world, and even within our own region. The conference is a demonstration of this new air, of this new mood."

Peres expressed satisfaction with the Palestinian moves against Hamas militants, but he said Israel always reserves the right to defend itself without hesitation.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says the summit at an Egyptian seaside resort Wednesday is the last chance to save the faltering Middle East peace process. Mubarak says the hastily-arranged summit at Sharm el-Sheik had to be called because without a renewed commitment, the entire Middle East peace process will collapse.

The Egyptian leader, who will co-host the one-day meeting with President Bill Clinton, says the recent series of suicide bombs in Israel has pushed the peace process into what he termed a dead end.

The summit was organized on short notice after a wave of terrorist attacks by the militant Palestinian group Hamas that killed 61 people and injured more than 150. Hamas is opposed to the Palestinian-Israeli peace accords.

Although the exact number of summit participants is still unclear, the White House and State Department say invitations have gone out to the leaders of 31 countries.

Among those who have confirmed they will take part are President Boris Yeltsin of Russia, French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and Jordan's King Hussein.

One country the United States is still anxiously waiting to hear from is Syria. Christopher has officially extended an invitation to Syrian leader Hafez al-Assad, but the Syrian president has refused to attend previous forums where Israelis took part.

To the dismay of the US and Israeli governments, Syria has stopped short of condemning the recent bombings in Israel. Syria and Israel have been engaged in protracted peace talks at a location near Washington. But the latest round of talks, scheduled for this week, has been canceled.

Mubarak says if world leaders meeting at Sharm el-Sheik can restart the peace process it would be the only way to put an end to terrorism.

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