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The BBC's Hilary Anderson reports
"A week of intensive diplomacy"
 real 28k

Monday, 28 February, 2000, 12:13 GMT
Mid-East envoy leaves empty-handed
Ross and Arafat
Ross and Arafat held two hours of talks
The US Middle East envoy Dennis Ross is returning to Washington after failing to break the deadlock in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

After meeting Palestinian President Yasser Arafat for two hours, Mr Ross said: "I am going back to Washington to consult with the president and we will decide what the best next step will be to ensure that this process of overcoming the difficulties actually succeeds."

Mr Ross has been in the region for the past week trying to rescue peace moves which stalled three weeks ago, causing the Israelis and Palestinians to miss a February deadline for a framework peace accord.

'No results'

He had shuttled between Mr Arafat and the Israeli prime minister in an attempt to revive negotiations.

Chief Palestinian negotiator, Yasser Abed Rabbo, who attended the final meeting between Mr Ross and Mr Arafat, said there were "no results" but added that he hoped the US envoy would continue his efforts to break the impasse.

Talks foundered as Israel rejected Palestinian demands over land in the West Bank which was scheduled to be handed back to Palestinian rule in January.

According to the Palestinians, Israel has identified an area of land which did not include areas around Jerusalem which the Palestinians want.

The transfer is now on indefinite hold.

The lack of progress follows an earlier statement from the Israelis who said that a peace deal with Syria was still "far from certain".

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's comment came at the beginning of a cabinet debate on Israel's proposed withdrawal from Lebanon - where Syria is the major power broker.

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Israel plays down peace prospects
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