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Kreisky Cooling Toward the PLO

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Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, shocked and angered at the unabashed jubilation expressed by the Palestine Liberation Organization over the assassination of President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, has indicated that Austria’s hitherto warmly sympathetic attitude toward the PLO may be over.

Declaring that “It is unbelievable that somebody is praising a murder,” Kreisky said that PLO chief Yasir Arafat’s remarks after Sadat’s death might result in “personal consequences” but he declined to elaborate. He did indicate, however, that Austria, the first Western country to extend quasi-diplomatic recognition to the PLO, was in no hurry to receive a new PLO representative in Vienna.

Kreisky made his remarks on Saturday, the day of Sadat’s funeral. The Chancellor’s spokesman, Wolfgang Petritsch, said yesterday that “We are in written diplomatic contact with the PLO. This could mean reconsidering how the contacts would be continued.”

Kreisky said that he and Arafat had “unbridgeable differences” in their assessments of the assassination. According to Kreisky, Sadat was a victim of his own political miscalculations. “Sadat’s tragedy was that he believed he could take on the Palestine question with his peace treaty with Israel. He underestimated the problem.”

Asked about a new PLO representative in Vienna, the Chancellor said, “At the moment we are not interested. We are not in a hurry, which should be understandable.” The PLO representative in Vienna, Ghazi Hussein, was expelled from Austria last summer for involvement in an arms smuggling operation shortly before a planned visit by Sadat to Salzburg. The visit was subsequently cancelled.

ANGERED BY ARAFAT’S REMARKS

Kreisky repeated that he was shocked by the assassination and warned that “deeds like this one have never contributed to a peaceful development.” He continued to maintain, however, that there would be no political solution to the Middle East conflict without the participation of the PLO.

Kreisky was angered by Arafat’s remark last week that “The assassination of Sadat was carried out by the Egyptian army in the name of the brave Palestinian people that bears the burden of the Zionist occupation.” He claimed the deed demonstrated that “The Palestinian struggle is alive in the conscience of the great Egyptian people, which has not forgiven its President for having deceived it on Jerusalem, bartered away the Palestinian goal and signed the treacherous machinations at Camp David.”

Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the PLO’s political department and its spokesman on foreign policy matter, said in an interview with Agence France Presse during an official visit to Havana Oct. 6 that the assassination of Sadat “is the best news for many years … The Egyptian people … removed the shame and dishonor which Sadat had imposed on the glorious history of Egypt.” He added that Sadat’s death marks “the beginning of the disintegration of the plot represented by the troika (trio) Begin-Sadat-U.S. …”

Abu Ayad, head of El Fatah, the PLO’s terrorist arm, said in a Beirut radio broadcast, “We shake the hand that fired the bullets and declare to the whole world that the dubious house of cards has been blown away … The shot fired at Sadat was fired at the worst of all stages in Arab history and is proof of the people’s vigilance and the evolution of the opposition from the passive steps to the active.”

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