A working summit: U.S.

THURMONT, JULY 12. The U.S. President, Mr. Bill Clinton, wrapped up the first day of Camp David negotiations for an Israeli- Palestinian peace agreement in a bilateral meeting with the PLO chief, Mr. Yasser Arafat, a White House spokesman said.

``It's over for today,'' Mr. P.J. Crowley, spokesman, told reporters at a press centre in the nearby town of Thurmont, about 100 km northwest of Washington.

Mr. Clinton held a series of separate meetings with Mr. Arafat and the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Ehud Barak, after urging both men to seek a ``principle compromise'' to end five decades of conflict.

``It's a working summit, they are going to talk about substance in a relaxed atmosphere,'' Mr. Crowley explained.

The three men were due to have dinner together as, in another room, were the U.S., Israeli and Palestinians at the mountain retreat before retiring to the 20 chalets of the wooded estate.

Amid a strict media blackout, U.S. officials have not given any details about the second day of negotiations today. A week has been set aside to try to strike a deal.

Prayers, protests

Meanwhile, supporters and opponents of Mr. Barak's policies held counter-rallies near the venue trumpeting their hopes for and fears of the summit's outcome.

Several dozen American Jewish schoolchildren and left- leaning Israelis sang songs of peace before the world's television cameras gathered to cover the summit.

``We had five wars. I fought in three,'' said Naftali Raz, an Israeli from the town of Mevasseret west of Jerusalem.

``We came so far to be here at Camp David because there is no way this convention will end without peace,'' he said.

However, supporters of the Israeli right-wing denounced Mr. Barak as a `traitor' for his willingness to cede Biblical West Bank lands to the Palestinians.

``We want peace for peace, not land for peace. We do not believe this false peace process will bring us peace,'' said Levy Huebner, a member of the orthodox Habad movement from Brooklyn, New York.

- Reuters