Arafat Consults with Arab Foreign Ministers on Clinton Peace Plan
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat began consulting Arab foreign ministers in Cairo Thursday before announcing the Palestinian position on US President Bill Clinton's plan for peace with Israel.
Photographers were permitted to enter the chamber where Arafat sat down for talks with nine Arab foreign ministers, including those from Egypt as well as Lebanon and Syria, which are home to thousands of Palestinian refugees.
The news photographers later left the chamber where a closed session was to be held.
Arafat was to announce the Palestinian "position" on Clinton's proposal after consulting the Arab foreign ministers, top aide Nabil Shaath said earlier.
Arab League sources said Arafat was scheduled to give a press conference after the closing of the meeting, which began just after 10 a.m. (0800 GMT).
The White House said Arafat had accepted the plan with reservations -- apparently over the fate of refugees in particular -- after meeting with Clinton on Tuesday.
Clinton has proposed giving Palestinians control of the Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and shared control of the Temple Mount, an area that contains sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians, according to Israeli and Palestinian officials.
The plan also provides for Palestinian control over 95 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip.
However, the Palestinians will be required to waive the right of return of refugees who fled Israel in the wake of the creation of the Jewish state in 1948 and their descendants.
Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara said late Wednesday after talks with his Egyptian counterpart Amr Moussa that the Arabs would not be the dupes of US and Israeli "deceits."
"The Arabs must not deviate from the right path in order to maintain Arab solidarity," he said.
earlier in the day, Arafat held around 90 minutes of talks with Mubarak, sources said, after he arrived from Washington.
Attending the meeting were Moussa as well as Shaath and chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, the sources said.
Neither side released details of the talks, after which Arafat headed to the meeting of foreign ministers -- CAIRO (AFP)
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