Knesset, PNC leaders strike deal in Athens

The speaker of the Israeli Parliament has agreed to a European Union proposal to exchange visits with a senior Palestinian official following a meeting with the leader of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), organized by Greek Parliament speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis on the sidelines of yesterday’s summit for regional parliamentary speakers in Athens. Knesset speaker Avraham Burg and PNC chairman Salim Zanoun have agreed to exchange visits between Jerusalem and the West Bank town of Ramallah within the next 10 days to encourage their governments to resume peace negotiations. Burg – who has maintained contacts with the Palestinian Authority despite Israeli Premier Ariel Sharon cutting ties with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat – will address the Palestinian Legislative Council, the Palestinian assembly in Ramallah, and Zanoun will visit the Knesset in Jerusalem. Kaklamanis, who yesterday urged the USA not to expand military action beyond Afghanistan, praised the two men but stressed «their efforts must be more than symbolic.» «That’s why I am here,» she added, referring to research she began in 1987. «It has been 10 years to the day since I and two painter friends, Sian Hopkinson and Steven Harvey, sent our report about the painting’s problems to the National Gallery on February 18, 1992!

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