Peres Hopeful About Deadline After Talks with Arafat, Mubarak

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres emerged hopeful from a lengthy three-way meeting Wednesday in Alexandria, Egypt, with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Peres said several problems had been resolved and the meeting had been “productively spent.”

As the three leaders met, dozens of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators continued their grueling — and apparently dispute-ridden — efforts to wrap up the second-phase self-government agreement in time for the July 25 deadline.

The talks have been proceeding at a secluded hotel in Zichron Ya’acov, between Tel Aviv and Haifa, but the Palestinians want them shifted to Cairo.

At the start of the meeting in Alexandria, Arafat condemned Tuesday’s terror killings in Wadi, in which two Israeli hikers were fatally shot.

Arafat pledged the support of his security service in tracking down the assailants.

Israel Television reported Wednesday evening that the Palestinian Authority had made arrests in Jericho among known members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the radical group that had claimed responsibility for the murders.

According to the television report, Peres told Arafat the tracks from the murder scene did not appear to lead into Jericho.

At the funerals of the two slain hikers, thousands of mourners pledged that they would continue touring and hiking throughout Israel despite warnings by the Israeli army that places such as Wadi Kelt are unsafe.

Arye Bachrah, father of the slain Ohad Bachard, prayed over his son’s open grave that God revenge his death “from this wicked government.”

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