Wednesday, May 19, 1999

In Damascus, European Union (EU) special envoy Miguel Moratinos discusses with Syrian FM Faruq al-Shara` resuming the Syrian-Israeli negotiating track. Afterward, Moratinos says that the Syrians "respect [Barak] a lot, and they think Labor can achieve the final peace with Syria," possibly within a yr. (MM, WT 5/20, 5/21; WJW 5/27; CSM 6/8)

Russia, Syria sign agmt. on using atomic energy for peaceful purposes, including scientific, technical, economic cooperation. (ITAR-TASS 5/19 in WNC 5/20; al-Bayan 5/23 in WNC 6/1)

In Washington, King Abdallah of Jordan meets with congressional leaders to urge them to approve the $300 m. in Wye supplemental aid for the kingdom. (WT 5/20; MM 5/21; NYT 5/23)

Iranian pres. Khatami ends 5 day visit to Saudi Arabia, heads to Qatar for talks on expanding bilateral cooperation, Muslim issues. (MM 5/19; IRIB Television, IRNA, Radio Qatar 5/19 in WNC 5/20; GIU, MM 5/20; IRNA, VIRI 5/20 in WNC 5/21; IRNA 5/21 in WNC 5/25) (see 5/16)

Israel's National Union party head Benjamin Begin, the ultranationalist son of fmr. PM Menachem Begin, resigns his Knesset seat, leaves the party (which won only 4 seats in the 5/17 elections), retires fr. politics. (NYT 5/20; WT 5/23; JP 5/28)

In Hebron, IDF demolishes Palestinian reservoirs that local Palestinians built to collect rainwater to irrigate their crops during the ongoing drought. (WP 5/20)

In Damascus, Armenian, Syrian officials hold talks on expanding bilateral ties, particularly in the economic sphere. (Snark [Yerevan] 5/20 in WNC 5/21)

In `Ayn al-Hilwa refugee camp in Lebanon, unidentified gunmen kill Amin Kayid, an official in PA head Yasir Arafat's Fatah organization, and his wife, possibly in retaliation for the murder of Shaykh Hisham Shreidi in 1990. (RL 5/29 in WNC 5/20; NYT 5/20; MEI 6/4; al-Safir 6/30 in WNC 7/2)