Barak Calls Blair, Putin on Mideast Situation

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak called Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday to brief the two leaders on the recent situation, especially the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts.

Barak also asked the two leaders to impose pressure on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to quell the violence, which had shaken the region for more than three weeks and killed over 120 people, most of them Palestinians, an official in Barak's Office announced Tuesday evening.

Russia and Britain had worked hard to narrow the gaps between Barak and Arafat in the past weeks to curb the disturbance, which also had damaged the peace process between the two sides.

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and British Foreign Minister Robin Cook had both visited the region earlier this month to try to broker a halt to the violence.

It was reported that former Israeli prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Shimon Peres visited Moscow in the past few days.

Meanwhile, Israeli acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami telephoned his counterparts of Germany, Norway and Cyprus, according to a statement issued by Israel's Foreign Ministry.

During the phone conversations, Ben-Ami urged them to use their influences with Arafat to "bring out full delivery of Sharm el Sheikh (ceasefire) understandings from the Palestinian side," and first and foremost, to restore calm between the two sides.

The Sharm el Sheikh understanding was reached by Barak and Arafat last week in an emergency summit in the Egyptian resort. But it was not fully carried out by the two sides.

People's Daily Online ---