Cheysson Meets with Arafat and Calls for PLO Participation in Future Middle Fast Peace Tal

Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson met today with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat in Beirut at the home of Lebanese Prime Minister Shafiq Al-Wazzan. The scheduled meeting had been entangled in a diplomatic dispute regarding its venue. Arafat insisted that the meeting take place at the PLO headquarters, while the French insisted that the meeting take place at its embassy or at its Ambassador’s residence in Beirut. Cheysson and Arafat met at the end of the Minister’s official visit to Lebanon. After the meeting, he left for Damascus. He had visited Jordan prior to arriving in Beirut.

Speaking at an official banquet last night, Cheysson called for PLO participation in future Middle East peace talks and also reiterated France’s belief that the Palestinians should be given the opportunity for self-determination. Cheysson declared:

“Every people, wherever it may be, is entitled to its future, has the right to a homeland with state-like structures and the right to full and complete self-determination. How can we uphold these basic principles in Poland or Nambia if we don’t respect them in this region (the Middle East)?”

The Minister summed up French policy in the Middle East by quoting from a letter French President Francois Mitterrand had written Jordan’s King Hussein last June in which he stressed the theme of “security for all states, justice for all peoples.” He explained that justice entails that territories cannot be annexed by force and added: “This obviously applies to the territories occupied (by Israel) and includes the city of East Jerusalem.”

Turning to the role of the PLO, Cheysson said “the Palestinian people is that most concerned by the peace talks. Needless to add that it (the PLO) should participate in any peace negotiations.” He added, quoting an earlier remark made by Hussein, “neither do I know of any one who wants to or can claim to represent the Palestinian people other than the PLO.” He explained that France’s refusal to recognize the organization as the sole representative of the Palestinians is based on juridical grounds, the fact that it lacks a territory of its own.

ISRAELIS REACT WITH ‘DEEP DISMAY’

(In Jerusalem tonight, Israeli officials reacted with “deep dismay” over the meeting between Cheysson and Arafat. There was no official statement from the Foreign Ministry but officials said that the feeling of “deep dismay” would be conveyed by Israel’s Ambassador to France, Meir Rosenne, when he meets with Mitterrand at the Elysee tomorrow or Tuesday. Last week David Kimche, the director general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, informed the French Ambassador to Israel, Marc Bonnefous, of Israel’s disapproval of the Cheysson-Arafat meeting.)

There will be no Bulletin dated Sept. 7 due to Labor Day, a postal holiday.

NEXT STORY