Arafat wants Israel to resume peace talks

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Tony Blair today joined Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in calling the Israelis to immediately resume peace talks.

The Prime Minister said he and Mr Arafat, who met at Downing Street, were in "complete agreement" that the Middle East peace process should be "reinvigorated".

Britain and the US know that damping down, if not resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is vital to maintain the coalition backing action in Afghanistan.

"We both recognise that this is a time to act with new resolve," Mr Blair said at a joint press conference with Mr Arafat.

"Too many innocent Palestinians and innocent Israelis have died in recent weeks, months, indeed years.

"We have a chance now today and in the weeks and months to come to put right the injustices that have for too long blighted our world and the Middle East in particular."

Mr Arafat again condemned the September 11 attacks in America and insisted Osama bin Laden was wrong to carry them out in the name of the Palestinians.

"Islam as a religion forbids anyone to harm any civilians, any innocent people, around the world," Mr Arafat said.