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America Strikes Back: Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to Meet Today with British Prime Minister Tony Blair

Aired October 15, 2001 - 05:25   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And here are the latest developments in the anti-terrorism campaign. Overnight and daylight U.S.-led bombing runs have targeted areas around Kabul, Kandahar and Jalalabad. Sources say war planes hit artillery and heavy armor that had been moved to the mountains outside Kabul.

HARRIS: Shops are shuttered in Islamabad with Islamic groups there calling for a national strike. Security is tight, with police trying to prevent a repeat of yesterday's violence from anti-U.S. protests in Jalalabad. Today's strike comes as Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to arrive in Pakistan within the next few hours.

PHILLIPS: And after visiting the sites, CNN's Nic Robertson says he cannot confirm the Taliban report of 200 people dead in the Afghan village of Koram but -- from the U.S. air strike. But Robertson did find unexploded bombs in the village some 16 miles west of Jalalabad.

HARRIS: Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is scheduled to meet today with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Their talks will include discussions on the Middle East peace process, but as CNN's Tom Bogdanowicz explains this morning, the goal is getting and keeping support for the war on terrorism.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM BOGDANOWICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): British Prime Minister Tony Blair is just back from the Middle East. His meeting with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in London, say officials, is a continuation of British efforts to underpin the international coalition against terrorism. Both Mr. Blair and U.S. President George Bush identified progress in the Middle East peace process as a key element in holding Arab and Western states together in the coalition.

JAMES RUBIN, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: When there is conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, anti-Americanism rises in the Arab world. Since we want the Arab world to be supporting us on another question, the war on terrorism, it would certainly make it easier to have things quiet on the Middle East front.

BOGDANOWICZ: Britain says its aim in talks with the Palestinian leader is to reinvigorate the peace process. It doesn't want to "play the blame game which only fans the flames of hatred." But that will be difficult with tensions at a peak and the fragile Israeli- Palestinian cease-fire on the knife edge.

Sunday's relaxation of the Israeli blockade in Gaza and the West Bank, for example, set against the killing of a militant from the Palestinian Hamas group on the same day. Israeli officials certainly attribute blame.

DANNY NAVEH, ISRAELI CABINET SECRETARY: The responsibility for the suffering of the Palestinian people lies on the shoulders of the Palestinian leadership because they haven't stopped really terrorist activities.

BOGDANOWICZ: Palestinians, on the other hand, point the finger of blame in the direction of Israel and warn that unless the peace process can be reactivated, terrorist groups like al Qaeda could find it easier to recruit young Palestinians.

GHADA KARMI, PALESTINIAN ACADEMIC: If this issue is left unresolved, I have no doubt that there will be more recruits to the cause of bin Laden, awful as that cause is. There will be more young men willing to lay down their lives in what they believe to be the cause of justice.

BOGDANOWICZ: Cordial and polite discussions between Mr. Blair and Mr. Arafat here at Downing Street may not satisfy Arab states. They're looking for more than just talk. They want to see concrete steps forward in the peace process. Without such steps, their commitment to the anti-terrorist coalition may well be undermined.

Tom Bogdanowicz, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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