PARIS (Sep. 5)
France will not give an official reception for PLO leader Yasir Arafat when he arrives in Strasbourg on Sept. 13, sources at the French Foreign Ministry said Friday.
But the sources said that when Arafat arrives to address the European Parliament, he will probably be greeted by a French official.
Arafat is scheduled to meet with the president of the European Parliament, Lord Plumb of Britain, and the president of the European Community, Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias.
The meetings are part of a diplomatic offensive by Arafat that includes rumored plans to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York this fall.
A spokesman for Lord Plumb said that it was an established tradition for the parliament’s president to welcome visitors at the request of one of the parliament’s groups.
Arafat was invited to speak to the parliament by the chairman of its Socialist Group, Rudi Arndt of West Germany.
But sources in Paris described the scheduled reception for Arafat by the Greek foreign minister as “stunning.”
The sources said that such a decision by the president of the European Community should have been taken after consultations with the member-states.
The newspaper Le Monde wrote that “the Greek policy on the Middle East being what it is, it is probable that Mr. Papoulias had in his passion forgotten to ask his peers for their mandate.”
Meanwhile, the French Socialist Party issued a statement Thursday on Arafat’s visit to the European Parliament.
The statement read in part: “The visit of Mr. Arafat to the European Parliament will be useful if the leader of the PLO, on the eve of the Palestine National Council (meeting in Algiers), does his part toward a reciprocal recognition” between Israel and the Palestinians.
The statement said that peace in the Middle East “must be based on the double recognition of Israel’s right to exist within secure and recognized borders and on the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and to a homeland.”