Arafat Visits Saudi Arabia to Drum up Arab Support in Peace Talks
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat started a visit to Saudi Arabia on Sunday to rally support in Arab capitals for his stand in US-brokered peace talks with Israel, a Palestinian official said.
Palestinian ambassador Mustafa Sheikh Dib told AFP that Arafat, who flew in to the Red Sea city from Jeddah from a visit to Paris, would meet King Fahd, Crown Prince Abdullah and Defense Minister Prince Sultan.
Riyadh threw its weight behind the Palestinian stand at the Camp David peace summit, while Saudi newspapers on Sunday slammed US President Bill Clinton over the crucial issue of Jerusalem.
"The American president does not have the right to give orders to Arab countries concerning the Palestinian cause so that they put pressure on President Arafat," Al-Jazira newspaper said.
It said that "Clinton's pressure on Arafat aims to serve partial policies in favor of Israeli objectives in the occupied territories, especially Jerusalem".
The US president's statements on Jerusalem have "put into question the credibility of the American role as mediator in the peace process," charged another daily, Al-Bilad.
In an interview on Israeli TV broadcast Friday, Clinton praised the "courageous" efforts of Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the marathon Camp David summit and said the US embassy could be moved from Tel Aviv to west Jerusalem.
He also warned the Palestinian leader against going ahead with a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood on September 13.
After talks in France, which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency, Arafat said Saturday that he would go ahead and declare an independent state "when the time is right, taking into consideration the advice of our friends".
"Under normal circumstances, the deadline is September, in a few weeks," the Palestinian President said.
"I want to remind Clinton and the whole world that in fact we should already have declared a Palestinian state, according to the Oslo accords, on May 4th, 1999," he said - JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP)
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