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December 20, 2002

UK's Middle East talks plan criticised

With Arafat in place, there will be no reforms, says Binyamin Netanyahu
The Israeli Foreign Minister has criticised a British plan for talks with Palestinian leaders, aimed at boosting the Middle East peace process.
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on Monday invited Palestinian ministers to London in January, for a conference on Palestinian "reforms".

There's about as much chance of having significant reforms under Arafat as there are... under Saddam Hussein

But Binyamin Netanyahu said the talks would be futile as long as Yasser Arafat - not himself invited to the talks - was leader of the Palestinian Authority.

Mr Netanyahu, who is flying to London on Friday for a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, said there was no political room for reform under Mr Arafat's leadership.