Rome (Dec. 16)
Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat, rebuffed by the Italian government, has reversed his decision to attend the International Convention on Jerusalem being held here Dec. 15-17. Arafat was invited by the Italian-Arab Friendship Association but the government made it clear that no official invitation would be forthcoming.
That position was taken despite approaches to Italian political figures by Emo Egoli, head of the Friendship Association. Egoli’s telegram to President Sandro Pertini on Arafat’s behalf went unanswered. To date, only the leader of the Italian Communist Party, Enrico Berlinguer, agreed to a colloquium with Arafat in Rome. Nehmer Ammad, the PLO representative here, reportedly feels this is not enough to warrant a visit.
According to the Milan daily II Giornale Nuovo, Arafat hoped to use his presence at the Rome conclave to seek recognition of the PLO which Italy does not wish to grant at this point. Apparently, to save face the PLO leader has advanced his scheduled visit to Greece by one month. By being in Athens from Dec. 14-16, he will thus be “unable” to attend the Jerusalem convention in Rome.
Greece is the first member-state of the European Economic Community and the second NATO nation to officially invite Arafat. He visited Portugal, a member of NATO, two years ago.