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Christopher Winds Down Mideast Mission with Discussions of Funding for the PLO

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U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher told Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat that he would do what he could to speed up funding from international donors to the newly autonomous areas of Gaza and Jericho.

Meeting with Arafat in Gaza on Thursday during his regional diplomatic mission, Christopher was responding to Arafat’s appeals that the self-rule areas are in a severe financial crisis.

However, Christopher stressed to Arafat that the PLO must establish proper accountability mechanisms before any funds are delivered.

The donor nations, worried about the PLO’s secretive manner of handling money in the past, have been seeking strict financial controls.

Christopher was also in Tel Aviv on Thursday to brief Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and other Israeli leaders on his trip earlier this week to Syria. He was scheduled to return on Friday to Damascus to meet with President Hafez Assad and try to advance the deadlocked talks between Syria and Israel.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres flew Thursday to Cairo, where he briefed Egyptian officials on the progress in talks between Israel and Jordan. He also used the meetings to explore ways to spur on the regional peace process.

Talks with Jordan culminated Wednesday in an unprecedented public meeting in a Jordanian Dead Sea resort between Peres, Christopher and Jordanian Prime Minister Abdul Salam al-Majali.

Negotiators continued the talks there on Thursday on economics, trade and civil aviation.

Joint projects being proposed for the development of the Jordan Rift Valley include building a Dead Sea-Red Sea canal and a Israeli-Jordanian road linking Eilat and Aqaba.

However groundbreaking, these talks merely set the stage for next week’s summit in Washington between Jordan’s King Hussein and Rabin.

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