Group confirms Abu Abbas visited Cairo, Egypt denies
Egypt has told the United States that Palestinian guerrilla leader Abu Abbas is not in the country, contrary to some media reports, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Thursday.
Boucher said: "This is a dangerous man. I don't know the exact legal status, but certainly he's not a person that we believe should be allowed safe harbor or easy passage."
Abu Abbas, also known as Mohammed Abbas, is the leader of the Palestine Liberation Front, which hijacked the cruise ship Achille Lauro in the eastern Mediterranean in 1985. A disabled elderly American, Leon Klinghoffer, was killed during the operation.
The Israeli newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, said on Thursday that Abu Abbas arrived in Cairo on Monday night to participate in Palestinian talks on an end to attacks on civilians in Israel.
But Boucher said: "We've been told specifically by some Egyptian officials that that's not the case, but I don't know that we have a final determination for you."
The United States had told the Egyptian authorities it might want to pursue a court case against Abu Abbas if it turned out that he was in Egypt, diplomatic sources told Reuters.
An official of his Abu Abbas group said Friday he came to Egypt this week for talks with the government. "He did visit Cairo, but I can't say where he is now for his own safety," said Nazim el-Youssef of the Palestine Liberation Front in Lebanon.
The group issued a statement earlier in the week saying a delegation led by Abu Abbas had arrived in Cairo at the invitation of Egyptian authorities for talks to "unite the Palestinian groups to enable them to face Israeli aggression." (Albawaba.com)
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