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Secretary of State Powell Plans Meeting With Arafat

At a Cairo press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, Powell repeated that the U.S. is committed to doing everything possible to end the violence.

“The United States is prepared to put U.S. observers on the ground as part of a truce settlement,” Powell said. “Time is of the essence. All of us know we must get to a political track.”

Egyptian Foreign Minister Maher said Arafat must be respected as the Palestinian people’s elected leader.

“Security cannot be achieved through the use of force, but through creation of an environment that is helpful to create confidence between the parties,” he said, adding that some sort of observer corps should be implemented to ensure violence is not repeated.

Prior to meeting with the foreign minister, Powell met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who the U.S. is asking for help in persuading Arafat to denounce attacks against Israel.

One of Powell’s goals while in the Middle East is to persuade Arab leaders to publicly condemn suicide bombings and other militant attacks against Israel.

“I would ask all parties now to speak out against this activity, all Arab leaders… This is the time to stop this activity because there is a process… that will get us where we want… a state,” he said. “Both will have to make hard choices.”