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Barak Not Tied to 15-Month Limit

July 21, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, on his way home from the United States, said today during a visit to London that he won’t be tied to the 15-month time frame he has set for a comprehensive Middle East peace.

``I will not ask for a medal if (the peace effort) takes nine months nor will I jump from any tower if it takes 24 months,″ Barak told reporters in the garden of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Downing Street residence.

The new Israeli leader, after breakfast with Blair, said talks with Syria could start within weeks.

During his Washington visit, Barak announced the 15-month time frame to determine whether Israel can reach final settlements with the Palestinians, Syria and Lebanon.

He also pledged to implement a U.S.-guided peace accord, the Wye River agreement, which calls for Israel to yield land in exchange for security guarantees.

Barak said Britain and the European Union could play a major role in creating conditions for peace in the Middle East. Blair pledged ``101 percent″ support for Barak’s initiative.

``We are obviously at a very important and critical juncture, but someone of Prime Minister Barak’s leadership and vision is precisely the person that can take this process forward,″ Blair said.

In Gaza, which the Palestinian Authority now controls, PLO leader Yasser Arafat on Tuesday called the 15-month timetable unacceptable and demanded ``immediate and speedy implementation″ of the Wye River accord.

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