JERUSALEM (AP) - Struggling to salvage his peace mission, Secretary of State Colin Powell will press Yasser Arafat when they meet Sunday to take "effective action" to end Palestinian attacks against Israel. Powell also is calling for restraint by Israeli forces on the West Bank.
Acting on the Palestinian leader's denunciation of terror in a statement the White House demanded, Powell rescheduled Saturday's postponed meeting with Arafat and other senior Palestinians in Ramallah.
The statement contained "a number of interesting and positive elements," including condemnation of terror, a Jerusalem bombing on Friday and a reaffirmation of a Palestinian commitment to a negotiate peace with Israel, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
Also, the statement called for immediate implementation of a shelved cease-fire plan prepared by CIA Director George tenet, Boucher said.
"The secretary will work with Chairman Arafat and the Palestinian leadership to show leadership and to help make these statements a reality, with effective action to bring an end to terror and violence and an early resumption of a political process," Boucher said.
Powell consulted by telephone with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and European officials before deciding to go ahead with the meeting.
In what appeared to be synchronized diplomacy, Powell said Israeli troops must refrain from "excessive use of force," and singled out Jenin, the embattled Palestinian town, for special concern.
"We are particularly concerned at the humanitarian situation," Powell said of Israeli operations in Jenin that Palestinian and outside observers have condemned as heavy-handed.
Arafat responded with his statement denouncing terrorism. It was the kind of statement President Bush was looking for so Powell could go ahead with the meeting in Ramallah, where the Palestinian leader has been confined in his office by Israeli troops.
Powell and Arafat were to have met at Arafat's headquarters Saturday, but a suicide bombing in Jerusalem prompted Powell to hold off, and to call for Arafat to condemn terror.
Arafat's statement, in Arabic, was distributed by the Palestinian news service WAFA, giving it the circulation the Bush administration wanted.
The statement specifically condemned the Jerusalem bombing, which killed six people and injured scores.
"We are condemning strongly all the attacks which are targeting civilians from both sides and especially the attack that took place against Israeli citizens yesterday in Jerusalem," the statement said.
Earlier Saturday, Powell issued a statement calling on Israeli forces in the West Bank to "exercise the utmost restraint and discipline and refrain from the excessive use of force."
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has not complied with Bush's call for a swift withdrawal. Powell, too, has been unable to persuade Sharon to provide a timetable for removing troops from Palestinian cities and towns.
A top Arafat aide, Hassan Abdel Rahman, said in Washington that Arafat wanted to cooperate with Powell, but also needed to hear from the administration a condemnation of Israeli military's actions against Palestinian civilians. Palestinians allege many civilians have been killed in the Israeli operation to wipe out militant networks in the West Bank.
Israeli forces moved into more West Bank villages Saturday, and sporadic fighting continued, especially in Nablus where seven Israeli tanks began shelling the main local government complex.
Powell met with Christian religious leaders and aid workers while awaiting Arafat's response.
Rene Kosirnik, head of the Red Cross delegation to Israel, said Israeli forces on the West Bank were subjecting the Palestinian people to "collective punishment."
"The whole population should not suffer so much," he said after meeting with Powell.
Kosirnik singled out the refugee camps near Jenin, saying conditions were especially bad and that Israel was denying access to the Red Cross.
Richard Cook, West Bank field director for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said dead bodies were piling up.
Powell had come to Israel in hopes of ending the bloodshed with a cease-fire and he repeated declarations of his support for a Palestinian state. He said the Palestinians had to be given hope.
He has advised Israel that hunting down terrorists on the West Bank would not provide security, that only a settlement with Arafat would accomplish that.
Following his meeting with five officials of U.N. and Red Cross aid groups, Powell announced the United States will contribute an additional $30 million for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency on top of the $80 million already contributed annually.
Through the U.S. Agency for International Development, the administration is providing $62 million in assistance for health care, water system repairs and emergency food aid, Powell said.
"We call upon the international community to do all it can to help at this time of exceptional Palestinian need," he said.
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