Palestinian Delegation Arrives in Syria to Prepare for Arafat Visit
Eleven Palestinian parliamentarians arrived in Damascus Tuesday to prepare for a visit by the Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.
"Our visit is without doubt a prerequisite for a visit by President Arafat, who is eager to pursue (dialogue) with the new Syrian president, Bashar Assad," said Salim Za'noon, speaker of the Palestinian National Council.
Arafat met Assad on June 13th during funeral services for his father, Hafez, who ruled Syria for 30 years.
Za'noon said Arafat must improve relations with Syria so the two sides can "coordinate our positions in the peace process with the Jewish state."
The speaker also called for an Arab summit to oppose "Israeli plans" for Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of a future state.
He said the Palestinians are negotiating in the United States right now "with force and firmness, refusing any concession or any delay concerning the questions of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees."
"Syria supports this position on Palestinian rights, which must be completely reinstated," Za'noon told reporters.
The speaker reiterated the Palestinians' position that an independent state will be declared no matter what the fate of the Camp David summit and that any potential agreement with Israel will be put before Palestinians in a referendum.
Syria and the Palestinian Authority hold identical positions, Za'noon said, because both sides "face Israel with firmness and demand the return of all territories occupied in 1967, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242."
The Palestinian delegation is due to meet Tuesday with Syrian Parliament Speaker Abdel Qader Qaddura. On Wednesday, the Palestinians will pay their respects at Hafez Assad's grave in the northern city of Qerdaha, before leaving the next day - DAMASCUS (AFP)
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