"We didn't deal with Yasir Arafat when we were putting the road map together," Powell told reporters in Washington on Wednesday. "So his comments don't mean a whole lot to me and I'm not responding to them in any way."

 

Interlocuter

  

According to Powell, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, "who has been our interlocutor because Yasir Arafat has not proven to be a good interlocutor for peace over the years, is still committed to the road map."

  

"I believe the road map is the way forward," Powell said, noting that progress - "slow progress but progress" - is being made.

 

"We didn't deal with Yasir Arafat when we were putting the road map together" 

Colin Powell, US Secretary of State 

"Arafat has not been playing a helpful role," Powell said. "If he wanted to have a helpful role, he would be supporting Prime Minister Abbas, not frustrating his efforts," he added.   

 

Arafat reportedly said in an interview with CNN on Tuesday that Israeli aggression had killed the US-backed ‘road map’ to peace and a Palestinian state.

  

"The roadmap is dead, but only because of Israeli military aggression in recent weeks," he said in an off-camera interview with CNN in the West Bank town of Ramallah, according to the network.

 

Arafat also told CNN that the United States had let the plan die.

 

The ‘road map’, drafted by the Quartet - US, United Nations, European Union and Russia -  envisaged the creation of an independent Palestinian state by 2005.