BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Middle East
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Saturday, 22 July, 2000, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
New ball game at Camp David
Mrs Albright, Mr Arafat and Mr Barak
Leaders relax after gruelling negotiations
After 11 days of gruelling negotiations, delegates at the Middle East peace summit in the United States took time out to play a game of basketball.

Amid rancour over US proposals for Jerusalem, negotiators agreed to a stress-relieving break on Friday afternoon.


They are not divided up into sides, so the leaders will find it hard to figure out which team to support

Richard Boucher, State Department spokesman
Organisers avoided any ill-feeling on the court by mixing up the teams between Americans, Palestinians and Israelis.

There is no suggestion that either Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat or US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright took part in the match.

But the leaders were expected to lend their support from the sidelines.

"I am sure there is moral support from the leadership, but they are not divided up into sides, so they'll find it hard to figure out which team to support," State Department Richard Boucher told reporters.

High stakes

Recalling that the deadlock over Jerusalem had almost caused the talks to be derailed on Thursday, reporters jokingly asked Mr Boucher whether the winning team would be awarded control over the Holy City.

Earlier, both sides had flouted a news blackout and commented publicly on the US power-sharing proposal.

But they stuck firmly to the news blackout in relation to the basketball match. The score was not reported, nor was there any indication as to who had taken part.

The talks themselves were scaled down on Friday, taking the form of informal discussions between small groups of negotiators.

But, despite the lighter mood at the close of day, Mr Bouchner insisted that everyone still appreciated the seriousness of the task in hand.

"It's not jovial," he told reporters.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

20 Jul 00 | Middle East
Accusations fly over Mid-East deadlock
21 Jul 00 | Middle East
Tricks and traps on road to peace
20 Jul 00 | Middle East
Analysis: A faltering peace
18 Jul 00 | Middle East
Adversaries fail to bond
19 Jul 00 | Middle East
Jerusalem: Difficult divisions
31 Jan 00 | Middle East
Jerusalem: Eternal, intractable
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories