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U.S. Says Arafat Must Call for an End to Suicide Attacks

Conflict: The latest deadly bombing in Israel won't deter Bush from seeking peace, the White House tells reporters.


WASHINGTON — The White House responded to the latest suicide bombing in Israel on Friday by saying the violence made it "a particularly apt day" for Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to call for an end to such attacks.

The Palestinian Authority "needs to renounce [violence] and renounce it soon," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said. Late Friday in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell called off his meeting for today with Arafat in the wake of the attack, which killed six people in addition to the bomber.

As the United States continued trying to arrange a cease-fire and begin political talks between the warring parties, Fleischer expressed no opinions on the documents that Israel contends link Arafat and other Palestinian officials to the string of suicide bombings that have killed scores of Israelis.

"Appropriate government agencies" are reviewing the documents, Fleischer said.

U.S. intelligence agencies have reached no conclusions yet as to the credibility of the documents, which Israel said it seized from Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

"We're looking at them," a U.S. official said Friday. "But we really don't know at this point."

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said an Israeli official distributed the documents to several U.S. government agencies in Washington this week.

"They're trying to tie people in positions of leadership in the [Palestinian] security forces to the terrorist network," he said. "These are some of the people we've dealt with, all parties have dealt with.

"They're trying to make the case that even the security officials, who were relied upon to bring security to the situation, were unreliable partners."

At the White House, President Bush learned of Friday's suicide bombing as he convened an early-morning national security meeting.

A short time later, Fleischer told reporters at his daily briefing: "The president condemns this morning's homicide bombing in Jerusalem. There are clearly people in the region who want to disrupt Secretary Powell's peace mission. And the president will not be deterred from seeking peace."

Fleischer downplayed a fund-raising telethon for Palestinians that was organized by the Saudi government.

"According to the information that we have about the telethon, and the assurances that we have received from the Saudi government, the money is raised to help with the broader humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people--something the United States is committed to," Fleischer said.

By late Friday, the telethon had raised more than $92 million for the Palestinians. The telethon was expected to continue today.


Times staff writer Bob Drogin contributed to this report.

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