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PLO official sees no progress in Camp David talks

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DUBAI — A leftist Palestinian leader said on Monday that Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at Camp David were a "waste of time" and that he did not detect any progress in six days of negotiations.

Tayseer Khaled, a senior official of the radical Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told the Qatar-based al-Jazeera satellite television from Washington that he would return home after the U.S. administration barred him and other PLO officials from meeting Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

"It seems to me there is no progress in these negotiations and the Israeli delegations are behaving as if they are negotiating on maintaining the occupation," Khaled said.

Asked how he expected the talks to proceed when President Bill Clinton leaves Camp David for a G-8 summit in Japan, Khaled said:

"That's not an issue. The problem is that these talks are a waste of time and I don't know if it would be possible to reach a framework agreement at this round of talks...I don't expect it.

"There is a real gap and a big one that exists between the American position and the Palestinian fundamentals as expressed by the Palestinian Central Council," Khaled said.

Khaled, who is a member of the PLO executive committee, was referring to a declaration by the Palestinian mini-parliament earlier this month of plans to declare a Palestinian state by September 13 with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital.

Clinton broke his silence after six days of talks to report "some progress" in the toughest peace mission of his career.

"There's been some progress, but I can't say I know we'll succeed," Clinton said in remarks to the New York Daily News.

Palestinian officials in contact with the negotiating team had said some progress was made on Saturday, but on Sunday Israeli officials had presented a tougher position on Jerusalem.

Khaled flew to Washington last week with two other leftist Palestinian officials to meet Arafat. But the U.S. refused to allow them access to Camp David, where Washington had imposed a news blackout on talks. Washington said it did not want to break the ground rules set out for the talks.

Khaled lashed out at the U.S. position.

"Staying here in Washington is a waste of time after all these measures taken by the U.S. administration, which are really an interference in internal Palestinian affairs," Khaled said.