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French Foreign Minister Says Arafat Seeks Peres’ Recognition

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Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed in a radio interview that Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat asked him to sound out Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres on a possible recognition by Israel of a Palestinian state.

Speaking Tuesday morning on French radio station “Europe 1,” Dumas reported on his dialogue with Arafat in Strasbourg last week.

Dumas, the first French Cabinet minister to meet with Arafat on French soil, was to meet Friday with Peres.

Arafat “said to me, half jokingly, ‘ask Monsieur Shimon Peres, if I would formally recognize Israel, would he recognize the Palestinian state?’ “Dumas said.

He said he pressed Arafat on the point. “If I publicly say that you have recognized Israel de facto, would you deny having said that to me?”

To which the PLO chief reportedly replied, “No, I would not deny that.”

Dumas said that he told Arafat that it was important for the peace process that the PLO recognize Israel. Arafat said, “I recognize the State of Israel by accepting (U.N.) Resolution 242.”

“But an explicit recognition would be better than an implicit one,” Dumas remarked. “It’s contained in what I said,” asserted Arafat.

Dumas said the PLO leader predicted three possible developments emerging from the upcoming meeting of the Palestine National Council, the PLO’s so-called parliament.

They are creation of a provisional Palestinian government; creation of a Palestinian state; or a demand that the Israeli-administered territories be put under the supervision of the United Nations.

“According to what he said to me, Arafat would favor the government in exile solution,” Dumas said.

“This government would not be presided over by him. It would be independent of the political charter (of the PLO), it would start negotiations with other parties, including Israel.”

Dumas did not say whether France would recognize such a government if it was formed.

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