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French Navy to Protect Ships Evacuating PLO Forces from Tripoli

The French navy will protect the four Greek ferries and two cargo ships to evacuate PLO chief Yasir Arafat and his men from Tripoli. French official sources confirmed today that French warships will “probably” escort the evacuating vessels as Palestinian spokesman in Paris, Ibrahim Suss, announced.

The ships, flying United Nations and Greek flags, will take part of the Palestinians to North Yemen and the others to Tunisia. Unconfirmed reports say Arafat plans to leave aboard one of the Greek ships and will be landed in Athens.

Arafat took a similar route last summer when he sailed from Beirut to Athens. These unconfirmed reports say he would leave Greece for Algiers where he wants to inspect some 1,500 Palestinian fighters who had been earlier evacuated from north Lebanon.

The French have stubbornly insisted that there can be no peace in the Middle East “without Palestinian participation” and believe that Arafat, whom they consider a “moderate,” should be enabled to leave Tripoli “without losing his dignity and personal prestige.”

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