WASHINGTON – President Bush's national security advisor accused Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat of being too dismissive of the war on terror and said the president will not meet him during this weekend's United Nations General Assembly session.
Condoleezza Rice said Arafat does not take the U.S. war on terrorism seriously and supports two groups labeled as terrorist organizations by the State Department.
"You cannot help us with Al Qaeda and hug Hezbollah — that's not acceptable — or Hamas. The president continues to make that clear to Mr. Arafat and there are no plans to meet with Mr. Arafat in New York," Rice said.
Rice continued that Arafat does not take seriously enough responsibilities that are required of a national leader.
"There are responsibilities that come with being the representative of the Palestinian people and that means to make certain that you do everything you can to lower the level of violence, everything that you can to root out terrorists," Rice said. "These are responsibilities that we have asked Chairman Arafat to take and to take seriously. We still don't think there has been enough in that regard."
Arafat has expressed support for the U.S. anti-terror campaign, but the Bush administration complains that he has not done enough to curb Palestinian attacks on Israel. Bush leveled his demand for action in a letter to Arafat last month and has not once invited him to the White House.
At the State Department Thursday, officials said they're not sure Arafat will even come to the U.N. General Assembly, much less meet with anyone from the administration.
Planning Minister Nabil Shaath, a close adviser to Arafat, said during a visit to the State Department that they had not asked for a meeting with the president.
Bush is heading to New York Saturday to attend the U.N. General Assembly, a special session that had originally been scheduled for the final week of September but was rescheduled after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
In a speech there, the president will reaffirm his commitment to fighting terrorism "and the regimes that harbor it," Rice said.
On Sunday, he will attend a two-month commemorative observance at Ground Zero accompanied by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
During those days, Bush will meet bilaterally with 11 world leaders, including the presidents of Uganda, Congo, Colombia, Argentina, Madagascar, South Africa, Kenya, and Croatia, the Mongolian prime minister and South Korean foreign minister.
The president will also have dinner with Pakistani leader Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The United States is counting on Pakistan in its military campaign against suspected terrorist Usama bin Laden, his network and his allies within Afghanistan's ruling Taliban.
Secretary of State Colin Powell will also attend a meeting with his counterparts from the six nations that surround Afghanistan and Russia.
Rice said the United States is "agnostic" about the composition of a post-Taliban government, provided it is broadly based and represents the people of the South Asian country.
During the briefing to reporters Thursday, Rice also criticized Israel for closing its borders to Palestinian workers from the West Bank and Gaza.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has canceled his attendance at the assembly to remain in Israel and address security problems there. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres will head Israel's delegation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.