Barak's peace efforts slowed by death of Moroccan king

Meetings with Arafat, Mubarak postponed

July 25, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

JERUSALEM -- The death of King Hassan II of Morocco has slowed the whirlwind peacemaking itinerary of Ehud Barak, the new prime minister of Israel.

A meeting planned for last night with Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, has been postponed, as has a visit to Alexandria, Egypt, to meet with President Hosni Mubarak today.

The king's funeral today could bring together in Rabat, Morocco, all of the key figures in the Middle East peace efforts.

Most significant, it could produce the first face-to-face encounter between the Israeli prime minister and President Hafez el Assad of Syria.

The two have been exchanging clear messages of their intention to restart Israeli-Syrian negotiations but have not spoken even by phone.

It was unclear late yesterday afternoon whether either leader would attend the funeral.

Barak's meetings were expected to be rescheduled for early this week.

Zvi Stauber, a foreign policy adviser to the prime minister, said that Barak was planning to try to persuade Arafat not to "waste energy" haggling over the plans for carrying out the Wye peace memorandum.

Barak wants Arafat to agree to rethink the pact, which was an interim agreement, and to consider combining it with the final status peace accord.

He has said that he will not force the issue if Arafat is opposed, and the Palestinians have expressed considerable opposition and alarm.

Pub Date: 7/25/99

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