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The BBC's James Robbins in New York
"President Clinton is struggling to produce a triumphant legacy"
 real 56k

The BBC's Rob Watson at the UN
"Peace efforts will continue in New York for the rest of the week"
 real 28k

The BBC's Mark Devenport
"Bill Clinton had his mind on the Middle East"
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Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 05:23 GMT 06:23 UK
No Mid-East advance at UN summit
Yasser Arafat and Bill Clinton
Yasser Arafat smiles as Bill Clinton (left) calls for compromise
At the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York, President Bill Clinton has failed to achieve a breakthrough in the stalled Middle East peace process.

The US leader held separate talks with Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, but officials said there was no major progress.

"I have no breakthrough to report," White House spokesman Joe Lockhart told reporters. "On the other hand there is no breakdown."

He said the two sides were still committed to reaching a peace agreement.

Sombre note

Mr Arafat has threatened to declare an independent Palestinian state on 13 September with or without reaching an agreement with Israel, though in his speech to the summit he repeated hints that the deadline could be extended.

Vladimir Putin: disarmament call
Vladimir Putin: Disarmament call
Mr Clinton is also expected to meet other Arab leaders in New York in order to explore areas where the Palestinians might be persuaded to make further compromises.

In his address to the summit earlier on Wednesday, Mr Clinton called on leaders to choose compromise over confrontation, and urged the Palestinians and Israeli to seize the fleeting chance for a final Middle East peace agreement.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the new century must go down as one of disarmament.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan opened the largest gathering of world leaders in history - but on a sombre note.

He asked delegates to stand for one minute's silence for three UN workers who were killed in West Timor by pro-Indonesian militiamen.

The people of the world look to you to protect them from the great dangers of our time, and to ensure that all of them can share in its great achievements - let us not disappoint them

Kofi Annan
The three-day meeting will focus on global issues like poverty, the spread of Aids, and how to share the benefits of globalisation more fairly.

In his opening address Mr Annan described the summit as "a unique event, a unique opportunity and therefore a unique responsibility".

Mr Annan added that when it was possible to decode the human genome and instantaneously transmit information around the world, no mother could understand why their child should be left to die of malnutrition.

Sacred Jerusalem

The first delegate to address the summit was Bill Clinton, who told the gathering that the finances of the UN must be fairly reformed.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak
Barak: 'The opportunity is now at hand'
With the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the audience, Mr Clinton said: "They have the chance to do it, but like all life's chances, it is fleeting and about to pass. There is not a moment to lose."

In his address Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak called for Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to join him in reaching an agreement.

"The opportunity for peace in the Middle East is now at hand and must not be missed. Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, now calls for a peace of honour, of courage and of brotherhood," Mr Barak said.

"We recognise that Jerusalem is also sacred to Muslims and Christians around the world and cherished by our Palestinian neighbours. A true peace will reflect all these bonds," he added.

Mr Arafat responded by saying the Palestinians had already made significant and painful compromises for the sake of peace.

On the subject of Jerusalem, he warned: "We remain committed to our national rights over east Jerusalem, capital of our state and shelter of our sacred sites."

The Russian president told the summit that the basis for international disarmament had already been laid, and that space should also be kept free of military conflict.

Mr Putin praised the aims of the UN, saying that even a global conflict could not impede the joint work of the UN, not even in the midst of extreme crisis.

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