American Jews to Meet with Arafat in Stockholm at Sweden’s Invitation
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American Jews to Meet with Arafat in Stockholm at Sweden’s Invitation

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A group of American Jews plans to meet with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat in Stockholm on Tuesday, the Swedish Embassy in Washington has confirmed.

A spokesman for the embassy said Monday that Swedish Foreign Minister Sten Andersson had facilitated the meeting as “part of Sweden’s efforts to contribute to the peace process.”

He declined to name the Americans.

Arafat is also expected to confer with Andersson, Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson and Thage Peterson, speaker of the Swedish Parliament.

The PLO maintains a representative’s office in Stockholm.

Leaders of mainstream American Jewish organizations could not identify the participants in the scheduled meeting with Arafat.

“We know of no meeting by any responsible or representative American Jewish leaders with Yasir Arafat in Sweden or any other country,” Malcolm Hoenlein, executive director of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said in a statement Monday.

The conference represents 48 national Jewish organizations.

Arafat is scheduled to speak next week to a specially convened session of the U.N. General Assembly in Geneva. The assembly’s annual debate on the Palestinians was shifted to the United Nations’ European headquarters there after the U.S. State Department refused to allow Arafat to come to New York to address the world body.

American Jews have met in the past with Arafat. Last year, Jerome Segal, a philosophy professor at the University of Maryland who has written extensively on the peace process, met with Arafat as part of a small delegation of Jews from American peace groups.

Segal said Monday that he was not taking part in the Stockholm meeting and could not identify any of the participants.

A spokesman for the PLO observer mission to the United Nations confirmed that the meeting had been arranged by Sweden, but offered no other details.

(JTA correspondent Howard Rosenberg in Washington contributed to this report.)

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