Arafat Arrives in South Africa for Talks on Peace Process
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat arrived in South Africa Thursday for talks about the Middle East peace process with President Thabo Mbeki and former president Nelson Mandela, a foreign ministry spokesman said.
Arafat said on his arrival at the Waterkloof Airforce base outside the capital Pretoria that he wanted Mandela to mediate in the Middle East peace talks, which broke down at Camp David in the US last month, the SAPA news agency reported.
"We have a very strong and fruitful and brotherly relation with our friends and our brothers here," Arafat added to reporters, SABC public radio said.
"It is my duty to come and to continue our consultation with His Excellency the president not only as the president of South Africa but also as chairman of the non-aligned countries (Non-Aligned Movement).
"It is my duty to put him in the full picture of what has been done in Camp David and what is going (on) now everywhere, at the same time to hear his advice and his points of view."
After touching down, Arafat met Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in Pretoria. He was due to meet Mbeki in the early afternoon, before traveling 60 kilometers (37 miles) to Johannesburg to meet Mandela.
Mbeki said before meeting Arafat that he would encourage Israeli and Palestinian leaders to conclude their peace negotiations by September 13th.
Arafat was due to meet Mandela in the early evening, Mandela's office said.
Mandela has consistently supported the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and statehood.
On Wednesday, Arafat returned home from a five-day Arab tour apparently stronger than ever, with solid Arab support for the Palestinians' position that east Jerusalem should be the capital of their future state.
South Africa and the Palestinian Authority enjoy close diplomatic relations and have opened embassies in each other's territories.
Arafat visited South Africa in April last year to enlist the support of the government for his plans to declare an independent state -- PRETORIA (AFP)
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