3 - 9 February 2000
Issue No. 467
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
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Statehood bidTHE PALESTINE Liberation Organisation's policy-making body, the 129-member Central Council, convened yesterday in Gaza City for a two-day session. Members discussed a possible declaration of statehood in an apparent attempt to prod Israel in the slow-moving negotiations on the terms of statehood, AP reported.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has repeatedly said that a Palestinian state would be established this year if the September deadline set for reaching a final peace treaty is not met. In convening the Central Council, Arafat is reminding Israel that a unilateral declaration remains an option.
Arafat is due to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at noon today at the Gaza Strip's Erez Crossing to discuss formulating the framework of a peace treaty before the 13 February deadline. The first two rounds of a 10-day marathon of intensive talks failed to produce progress.
US President Bill Clinton's Middle East envoy Dennis Ross met Arafat yesterday amid speculation that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright might be coming to the region as well.
EU showdownA SHOWDOWN loomed between Austria and its 14 European Union partners yesterday as Austrian President Thomas Klestil held consultations on whether to approve the far-right Freedom Party joining a conservative coalition government, at peril of an unprecedented EU veto and international quarantine, Reuters reported.
An EU spokesman said that it was now inevitable that the 14 heads of state would go ahead with their threat to freeze all bilateral political contacts with Austria if the neo-fascist union, headed by Joerg Haider, was not rejected. Rebuffing the EU warning, Austrian conservative leader Wolfgang Schuessel presented the president with a final reform programme for the coalition early yesterday and said it was up to him to take the final decision. (see p .6)
Arms downedALGERIAN President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika has said that some 6,000 Islamic militants have surrendered under the terms of an amnesty that came into effect last month.
Bouteflika, who was elected last April, told France's LCI television in an interview that members of the Islamic Salvation Army were included in the amnesty, adding that he would treat them as ordinary citizens.
Asked about their return to the political scene, Bouteflika said the political structure should not be modified until the country had regained its balance and its place on the international scene, AP reported.
IN A THRILLING come-from-behind victory, Egypt beat Burkina Faso 4-2 to end top of their group at the African Cup of Nations (ACN).
It was the first time Egypt had won all its three matches in the first round since 1974 and became the first African country to snatch the maximum nine points in the first round. Egypt was down 2-1 after the first half but let fly in the second, scoring three unanswered goals. In the quarter-finals Egypt will play the second-place finisher in Group D.
Senegal joined Egypt in the quarter-finals after drawing 2-2 with Zambia. Both countries are in Group C. (see p.16)