PARIS (Nov. 23)
French President Francois Mitterrand has recognize the right of the Palestinians to an independent state.
His remarks, in an interview published Wednesday, coincided with reports that France will upgrade the Palestine Liberation Organization’s mission in Paris, though not to full diplomatic status.
The leftist daily Liberation quoted Mitterrand as saying that “the Palestinian nation is emerging as such among the other nations of the world and is identified as such.”
He added that “France recognizes the right of the Palestinians to live in a territory with the status of an independent state.”
Until now, Mitterrand and previous French presidents have spoken only of the Palestinians’ right to a homeland.
Mitterrand said the proclamation of an independent Palestinian state by PLO chief Yasir Arafat in Algiers on Nov. 15 “changed in depth” the Middle East situation.
He said legal factors prevented France from recognizing the Palestinian state. But “the way has now been mapped” to such recognition, he added without elaboration.
Mitterrand is due to meet with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow on Friday. They are expected to discuss the changes in the Middle East.
That was the subject of two days of exchanges between French and Soviet experts in Paris last week. Diplomatic sources said their respective views “are very close.”
The PLO office in Paris, meanwhile, seems likely to get a substantial boost. Opened in 1975, it is now known as a “liaison and information bureau” without diplomatic status.
Diplomatic sources here said Foreign Minister Roland Dumas told a group of Arab journalists Tuesday that the mission will be upgraded, though not to an official diplomatic level.
Its new status is expected to be announced next month, after the visit here of Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the PLO’s political department.
Kaddoumi’s many previous visits here were described as private or working trips. His next one might be designated an official visit.