Arafat to Visit Syria in Mid-September
Palestinian International Cooperation Minister Nabil Shaath said Sunday that President Yasser Arafat would be visiting Syria September 12-13.
Shaath announced the date after one-and-a-half hour meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al Shara in Damascus, the second such meeting since his arrival in the Syrian capital Friday, according to reports.
The long-awaited visit is scheduled after Arafat and Syrian officials attend the eight-day UN anti-racism conference in Durban, South Africa, which starts on August 31.
Shaath was quoted by reports as saying that he and Shara "talked about all preparations for the visit, which will focus on stopping the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and backing their Intifada."
It will be Arafat’s first official visit to Syria since relations soured in the wake of the 1993 Palestinian-Israeli Oslo accords.
But Arafat has so far met with Assad twice. The time first was in 2000 at the funeral of the late present Hafez Assad, and the second was on the sidelines of the Arab summit in Amman in March.
Arafat’s deputy Mahmoud Abbas also visited Damascus earlier this month to prepare for the visit.
The Palestinians have reportedly agreed to conditions set by Damascus to renew their relations. However, reports have said that although the PA wants full coordination with Syria over the peace process and any agreement with Israel, they have rejected the idea of Damascus dictating decisions to them – Albawaba.com