Arafat to Push European Union to Recognize State during Visit to France
Palestinian president Yasser Arafat will meet French President Jacques Chirac in Paris on Saturday and ask him for European support for an independent Palestinian state, a senior Palestinian official said Friday.
"Arafat will ask Chirac and France, as the head of the European Union, to support the Palestinian right to proclaim and establish a state," a senior Palestinian official told AFP, asking not to be named.
France on Saturday is due to become president of the European Union for the next six months.
Nabil Abu Rdeineh, a senior aide to Arafat, stressed that the Palestinians, who have promised to declare independence in September even if they fail to reach a peace deal with Israel by then, need European support.
"Arafat will to go Paris on a brief visit. He will meet with President Jacques Chirac, which is of particular importance because France will be the president of the European Union from tomorrow," Abu Rdeineh told AFP.
He said Arafat could either travel to France later on Friday or early Saturday.
"They will discuss ways to push forward the peace process, in particular Arafat is asking for a real and active European role during the coming weeks which are critical," Abu Rdeineh said.
"Arafat and Chirac will hold a broad ranging debate on the peace process and the obstacles facing it and discuss bilateral relations between France and the Palestinians and the European role in the next stage," Abu Rdeineh added - RAMALLAH (AFP)
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