Arafat Refused to Reconsider Bid to Join U.N. Body, Says Director

The director general of the World Health Organization said Thursday that he appealed to Yasir Arafat not to press for the Palestine Liberation Organization’s admission to the U.N. agency when its governing body meets here Monday.

But the PLO chief refused to back off, even when he was told that a successful bid by the PLO would backfire against Palestinians, because the WHO would lose the American aid that accounts for a quarter of its annual budget.

Dr. Hiroshi Nakajima, the Japanese physician who runs the agency, told reporters of his conversation with Arafat at a news conference Thursday, upon his return from Washington.

He flew there Monday to try to convince the Americans not to suspend their contribution, in the event the PLO is voted into the WHO. But he said his request to meet with President Bush or Secretary of State James Baker was refused.

Baker announced Monday that the United States would withhold funds from any U.N. body that gives the PLO full membership. His statement came after the PLO said it would seek full membership in the WHO with the rights of a sovereign state.

“I told Yasir Arafat that his request that the PLO be admitted as a state with full rights to the World Health Organization is made at the most inappropriate time and place,” Nakajima said. “If it passes, it will bring the complete destruction of the organization.”

He said the WHO would then have only $30 million at its disposal until the end of this year. The American contribution for fiscal 1990 is $73.8 million.

“Arafat refused to postpone, even when I told him that if the well-being of the Palestinians was important to him, he should agree to postpone the issue,” Nakajima said.

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