PLO Official: Arafat in Syria in the Second Half of April
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's visit to Syria is expected in the "second half of this month," a PLO official said in an interview published by a Syrian government newspaper on Saturday.
"The date of the visit has not been set yet, we are waiting for some Arab consultations with the (US) sponsor of the peace process," head of PLO political department, Faruq Qaddumi told Tishrin.
"There will be afterward consultations about the visit of Abu Ammar (Arafat) and the summit will be held, God willing, during the second half of this month," he added.
He said the Syrian leadership and Arafat could agree during the visit on a "struggle program" based on "five principles."
Those principles are: a "total (Israeli) withdrawal from Palestinian lands occupied in 1967," the "return of all the Palestinian refugees," the withdrawal of Israel from East Jerusalem," "backing the Palestinian uprising and its continuation," and the "establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," he said.
Qaddumi gave the interview during a stay in Damascus a few days ago to prepare for Arafat's trip, which will be his first official visit to Syria since 1996.
The Palestinian leader had strained relations with Syria since 1993, when it rebuked him for signing the Oslo peace accords with Israel.
In a speech at the Arab summit held last week in Amman, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called on Arafat "to forget the past," and the two leaders met afterward.
This was the first meeting between the Syrian and Palestinian leaderships since 1997, when Arafat had talks on the sidelines of the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Tehran with President Hafez al-Assad, who died last year – DAMASCUS (AFP)
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