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Diplomatic moves begin amid Arafat mourning

Diplomatic moves begin amid Arafat mourning
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Palestinians may be in full mourning for Yasser Arafat but already moves are underway to inject new momentum into the Middle East peace process. US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said he hopes to meet Palestinian leaders soon as a part of a fresh diplomatic initiative.

He will be in Egypt in November 22 for a two day summit and White House officials have indicated he could meet the current and former Palestinian prime ministers, Ahmed Qurie and Mahmoud Abbas there, or even travel to the Palestinian territories If he does he wil be following in the foot steps of the EU’s foreign policy chief, Javer Solana, who met Qurie and other Palestinian leaders shortly after Arafat’s burial. After the encounter Solana pledged the EU would offer assistance to the Palestinian Authority in elections to find a successor to the late President. They have been provisionally marked down for January 9. In Nazareth thousands of Arabs took to the streets to demonstrate that Arafat will be mourned by at least some Israelis. Arab Israelis comprise about a fifth of the country’s population. The Israeli government has said Arafat’s death could be a turning point in the conflict but that talks will only resume of the eventual new leader is more effective in reining in militants.