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Monday, December 14, 1998 Published at 18:09 GMT

World: Middle East

Clinton raises Palestinian hopes

Mr Clinton urged Palestinians to seek a more peaceful future

On the first visit of a US president to Palestinian-held territory, Bill Clinton has urged every influential Palestinian to halt the "endless cycle of violence" in the region.

Middle East
Speaking at a meeting of the Palestine National Council, President Clinton applauded Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for making bold moves towards peace with Israel.

Bill Clinton: "Turning from conflict to co-operation"
He said it was time to think harder about ways to cement peace and ensure a more prosperous future for all Palestinians.

His comments came after a dramatic show of hands by PNC members affirming the annulment of Palestinian charter provisions denying Israel's right to exist.

"I know the way is often difficult and frustrating, but you have come to this point through a commitment to peace and negotiations," President Clinton told the PNC.

"You reaffirmed that commitment today. I believe it is the only way to fulfil the aspiration of your people."

'Peace will prevail'

Mr Arafat followed the president's speech by declaring that through Mr Clinton "peace will prevail in the Middle East".

Violence in the West Bank has escalated since the negotiations at Wye River a month ago.

But both Mr Clinton and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is accompanying the president, expressed their commitment to its terms.

Ms Albright called the trip a "visible sign of what we accomplished in the Wye talks".

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