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Palestinians to Attend Peace Talks Despite Dismay over Loan Guarantees

Despite Arab disenchantment with the American decision to provide loan guarantees to Israel, Palestinians will take part in next week’s round of Middle East peace talks.

Hanan Ashrawi, spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation, told reporters in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Thursday that the Palestinian team would show up on schedule for the talks, which are to resume Monday in Washington.

Proposals to delay participation in the talks as a form of protest against the loan guarantees were dropped after a two-day Arab strategy meeting in Damascus, where it was agreed to attend the next round of negotiations.

News reports quoted Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa as saying that Washington had given some clarifications about the loan guarantees and promised more when Congress begins discussing the terms of the loan package.

Summing up the meeting of Arab foreign ministers and Palestinian leaders in the Syrian capital, Sharaa condemned the loan guarantees and urged the United States to act as “an honest broker” in the peace talks.

Ashrawi said the Palestinian delegation to the talks would leave Friday for Amman to hold last-minute consultations with Nabil Shaath, political adviser to Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat.

Reportedly on the table at the talks will be an Israeli target date of April 1, 1993 for general elections in the administered territories, with interim deadlines of Dec. 1 for agreement on their format and Feb. 1 for an accord on the powers of the administrative council that would be elected.

The shape of the Palestinian self-governing body will be one of the thorniest issues to be discussed by the Israeli and Palestinian teams, which have dramatically different views on the scope of autonomy.

Israel envisages an administrative council during a five-year interim period preceding negotiations on the final status of the territories, while the Palestinians are demanding the establishment of a legislative council.

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