PARIS (Aug. 29)
Socialist International officials said they will try to launch a diplomatic initiative to find a global solution to the Palestinian problem. This comment was made Saturday night in Lisbon after a Socialist International delegation led by former Portuguese Premier Mario Suarez returned from a study trip to Beirut. The International includes Israel’s Labor Party and Lebanon’s Progressive Party headed by Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.
Suarez, who met in Beirut with PLO leader Yasir Arafat, said he “did not appear a beaten man. He still seems determined to lead his people to what he sees as their just aims.” Suarez, who also met in Lebanon with most of the country’s prominent political figures, stated that “conditions (now) exist for steps forward in the search for a solution to the Palestinian problem.”
Another member of the Socialist delegation, French party national secretary in charge of international affairs, Jacques Huntzinger, caused a storm when he said that the destruction of Beirut “is horrible, worse than anything we imagined.” He said “the films shown on French television were, it anything, less than the truth.”
Huntzinger’s statement has caused a furor in Jewish circles as he was previously known as the head of the party’s pro-Israel wing. After a trip to Israel last month he distanced himself from the French party’s official line and espoused Israel’s cause.
ARAFAT TO VISIT ATHENS
Meanwhile, it was reported in Athens today that Arafat will pay a two-day visit this week for talks with Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou. A government spokesman said the date of Arafat’s arrival has not yet been fixed but he is expected to arrive either Tuesday or Wednesday aboard a Greek passenger ship, the Atlantis, which sailed from Piraeus to Beirut yesterday and is expected to return by mid-week.