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U.S. Urges an End to Violence, Deploring Casualties in Nahalin

The Bush administration called again Friday for an end to the violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

State Department spokeswoman Margaret Tutwiler made the appeal after deploring what she said was the “tragic” loss of lives Thursday in the West Bank village of Nahalin, near Bethlehem.

At least four Palestinian youths were killed and at least 10 others injured in a clash with Israeli border police units conducting an early morning raid on the village.

“We urge all sides to refrain from engaging in confrontations that lead to the unnecessary loss of life,” Tutwiler said. “We want to see the violence stop and see steps taken that can begin to defuse the tension on the ground.”

Secretary of State James Baker, in a speech Friday to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, said that “the daily violence in the West Bank and Gaza, the stones thrown, the lives lost, are all adding to an already bitter legacy of hatred between Arabs and Israelis.”

He said this is why the United States is urging a step-by-step approach to a settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict. “The atmosphere is far too clouded by violence and tension to launch negotiations now,” he said.

Baker added that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir responded to this approach by proposing elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for Palestinian representatives to negotiate an interim settlement and eventually an agreement on the final status of the territories.

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