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Publisher\Editor Don Canaan

                       May 1, 1996 V4, #79
All the News the Big Guys Missed

Peres Refuses to Rule Out Iran Air Strike

By Paul Westpheling (VOA-Washington)

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres says Israel may have no more than four years to create a new coalition in the Middle East. Peres said he is worried by the spread of Islamic fundamentalism in the region because Iran is attempting to destroy Israel by mobilizing the fundamentalist movement, which he calls evil and malicious.

Peres says he also believes Tehran has the potential to possess a nuclear weapon by the year 2000. "It is because of this that I think a united policy by the Western world and the Russians to prevent the Iranians from having a combination of the fundamentalist movement and the nuclear capacity is essential."

Peres refused to rule out an Israeli air strike against Iran's suspected nuclear facilities. However, he says the best approach would be for Iran to be stopped, using economic pressure.

The prime minister said he cannot say, with certainty, former Soviet scientists or Russian military personnel with nuclear knowledge are working to give Iran a nuclear capability. However, he says there are 150 Russian experts in Iran trying to rebuild a civilian nuclear reactor.

Peres says Islamic fundamentalists armed with nuclear weapons pose one of the greatest dangers of our time -- ranking behind only Communism and Nazism.

Clinton-Peres Sign Anti-Terrorist Agreement

By David Borgida (VOA-White House)

President Clinton and visiting Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres have signed an anti-terrorism agreement that underscores the US commitment to the search for a comprehensive Middle East peace. The agreement was signed as both leaders began their second meeting in the past three days.

Under the agreement, the United States provides Israel with advanced anti-terrorist help and equipment -- such as robots used to disarm bombs. Congress has approved $50 million the president requested for the new help for this year.

The president denied his help to Israel represents undue US support for Peres in the upcoming Israeli election. "We do not interfere in the internal decisions of other countries, and Israel and the United States are friends and allies, and will be no matter who is elected. I hope that will also be the case no matter who is elected in November in the United States."

Jerusalem Talks Start Sunday

By Al Pessin (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israel and the Palestinians will begin talks on the next and final stage of their peace process Sunday evening at the Egyptian resort of Taba, on the Gulf of Eilat. Previous accords created the Palestinian Autonomy Authority and resulted in the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and most of the Palestinian cities on the West Bank. The latest agreement, signed last year, is still in the process of being implemented.

But all the previous agreements were interim steps, designed to build trust and prepare the way for talks on the most difficult issues between them -- Palestinian statehood, and the future of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements and Palestinian refugees.

Some officials say the basic outlines of a deal are known and the details could be worked out within a few months. But others predict the negotiations will go even longer than their scheduled duration of three years.

And all agree the Israeli elections four weeks from now will have a significant impact on the talks, with the ruling Labor Party ready to move ahead swiftly and the opposition Likud offering a more cautious approach. For that reason, Sunday's meeting is expected to be mainly procedural, with substantive talks waiting until sometime in June.

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