U.S. Slowly Scaling Back Role in Israel

(AP/USA Today) Call us when you're serious about disarming militants - that's the message Palestinians are getting from U.S. mediators who have scaled back their presence in the region. The apparent disengagement comes amid a deadlock in the U.S.-led "road map" peace plan, Washington's growing troubles in Iraq, and the distractions of the U.S. presidential election campaign. A U.S. State Department official said, "There is engagement, but don't forget that in the absence of concrete steps that are not ours to make, there is a limit to what we can do." Palestinian officials are now saying they have been told by the Bush administration it is waiting for a crackdown on the militant groups that have killed hundreds of Israelis in the past three years of fighting. Three Palestinian legislators heard that message last week in a meeting in Washington with David Satterfield, a senior State Department official. "We were able to understand from him that the Americans will stay outside until the Palestinians take some steps," said Kadoura Fares, a member of the delegation from the ruling Fatah movement.

2003-10-31 00:00:00

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