FM to meet Arafat on ‘road map’

JERUSALEM (AP) – Foreign Minister George Papandreou, representing the EU presidency, yesterday discussed an internationally-backed Mideast peace plan with Israel’s foreign minister and said he planned to meet with Yasser Arafat despite Israel’s objections. Papandreou arrived for two days of talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders about the plan, called the «road map,» prepared by the quartet of Mideast mediators: the United States, the EU, Russia and the United Nations. He followed US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who left Israel yesterday after failing to extract a commitment from Israel to accept the plan. The Palestinians have called for international pressure on Israel to implement the «road map.» Israel is boycotting Arafat, charging that he is involved in terrorism, and Israeli officials said earlier that PM Ariel Sharon would not meet with foreign ministers who visit the embattled Palestinian leader. However, Israel appeared to be backing down from that position, scheduling a meeting between Sharon and Papandreou before the European official’s talks with Arafat.

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