Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrived in Israel on Monday, at the start of his Middle East tour marred by his boycott of Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.
In response, a Palestinian official said Monday that Berlusconi would be unable to meet with the Palestinian premier, Mahmoud Abbas, unless he also met with Arafat.
"There will be no meeting with the Italian prime minister, unless he is also willing to meet with President Arafat," Palestinian Foreign Minister, Nabil Sha'ath said Monday.
Sha'ath said that meeting with Arafat was part of a Palestinian agreement with the European Union. "If the prime minister does not do this, no Palestinian will meet with him," he said.
Berlusconi presented Monday afternoon Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, with his program for economic rehabilitation of the Middle East, which he also presented at the G-8 summit in Evian, France last week.
On July 1, Italy will take over the presidency of the European Union, held on rotation for six month periods and currently headed by Greece. (Albawaba.com)
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