WASHINGTON (Oct. 31)
Yasir Arafat. the Palestine Liberation Organization’s leader, has not yet asked for a visa to enter the United States as a result of the United Nations vote allowing the terrorist group to participate in its debate on the Palestine Question. State Department spokesman John King said today that apart from the five PLO members who had asked for visas a week ago through the UN Secretariat in New York no other visa requests have been made for PLO members to his knowledge. The Department, he said, has not yet “processed” visas for those who had applied for them.
King’s statement came during questioning on the suit filed earlier today in Brooklyn Federal Court by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith to bar PLO officials from entering the United States or, at a minimum, limit their travel and access rights if entry cannot be forbidden. King said that the Department’s legal division will “respond appropriately at some point” in the proceedings. An unanswered question is whether persons regarded as criminals by the United States may be permitted to enter this country regardless of the agreement between the UN and the U.S. that admits access to those accredited by the UN.
Reports from the Middle East indicated that not only will Arafat make an appearance even if for only 24 hours at the UN headquarters in New York –but that he will be virtually escorted there by a top level Arab delegation. Among those reported as expected to come with Arafat are Lebanese President Suleiman Franjieh, Arab League chairman Mahmoud Riad, Morocco’s King Hassan II. who was chairman of the recent Arab summit conference in Rabat, Algerian President Houari Boumediene, all representing “non aligned nations,” and possibly Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who is the Islamic conference chairman, and Somali President Siad Bare, who is the chairman of the Organization of African Unity.