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Breaking News

Middle East Peace Summit: Talks Break Down; U.S. Officials Doubt an Eleventh-Hour Revival

Aired July 25, 2000 - 11:01 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: There is word coming out of Camp David about the Middle East peace talks and where they could be headed.

Let's bring in our John King who's at White House.

John, what do you know?

JOHN KING, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The Camp David summit has ended without an agreement. This despite marathon negotiations the past two weeks, including the past several nights since President Clinton returned to the talks after his trip to Japan. White House officials say the president had hoped to get the two sides to narrow their differences. He had been trying in the past 24 hours to get them to put in writing all the progress they had made, and then so he could make the case that they should make the final steps to peace.

Instead we are told those discussions collapsed overnight. The president, in meetings this morning, decided that the talks had come to a point where it was not worth going on. The White House saying now the summit has ended without an agreement. Remember this happened right before the president went to Japan last week and then the talks were suddenly revived. White house officials telling us privately, though, they do not expect that to happen again.

We are still waiting for more details. And sources telling CNN that if the president leaves Camp David, and when he leaves Camp David, he is likely to make a statement about, in his view, why this summit, once again, has collapsed without an agreement -- Daryn.

KAGAN: And so, John, we expect both these leaders, Yasser Arafat and Ehud Barak, to go home empty-handed, with nothing, after all these days of work?

KING: We have been hearing from both the Palestinian and the Israeli delegations that they are making the arrangements to go home. One of the big questions was: could they produce a piece of paper, some sort of statement out of Camp David that at least put down the progress they had made on the other issues.

The main sticking point has been Jerusalem. The Arabs -- the Palestinians, excuse me, want part of Jerusalem for the capital of a Palestinian state. The Israelis had been discussing some proposals to give the Palestinians some authority, but there was a big dispute over that.

What the president had hoped is that at a minimum they could put on paper the progress they had made on many of the other issues. But both the Israelis and the Palestinians were reluctant to do that. So we are told at this hour, the talks have ended without any agreement at all.

Again, this is a developing story, we need to get more details. But it looks like these talks have collapsed and that both sides will go home with no agreement despite two weeks of intense negotiations.

KAGAN: And so, John, that will lead to big problems for the Palestinians and Israelis to face for themselves. For President Clinton, this has to be a huge disappointment. He was looking to build his legacy through these talks, was he not?

KING: Well, the question is whether the brinkmanship of this summit, after a few days of reflection, leads to new talks. Obviously, the Israelis and the Palestinians are neighbors, perhaps reluctantly so at times, but they do need to keep discussing some issues. U.S. officials say they believe some talks will continue.

But the question is what will happen to both of these leaders now? Prime Minister Barak came to Washington after just barely surviving a vote of no confidence in his parliament. Chairman Arafat has been said to be weakened. Many Palestinians don't trust his stewardship of the peace process.

And yes, President Clinton obviously wanted to add a Mideast peace agreement to his legacy. He will go back and try this again, U.S. officials say. The question is: Will there be the political will from both the leaders, Mr. Arafat and Mr. Barak, and will there be support from their people back home for another round of negotiations? Obviously a big deadline looming September 13, that is when Mr. Arafat has said he would unilaterally declare a Palestinian state if there is no agreement.

KAGAN: All right, John King, at the White House, we'll cut you loose so you can go and get some more news on this developing story.

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