Yasser Arafat said today that the second formal meeting between U.S. and PLO representatives was positive and reflected the desire of both sides to make the dialogue a success.
To a reporter who asked the smiling chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization whether Wednesday’s meeting was responsible for his good mood, Arafat replied: “Yes, exactly.”
He described the content of the meeting between U.S. Ambassador Robert H. Pelletreau and Yasser Abed-Rabbo of the PLO Executive Committee as “positive and serious,” but gave few details of the discussion.
“There is a mutual interest and intention to lead this dialogue to success,” Arafat said.
Pelletreau and Abed-Rabbo met for 4 1/2 hours at the Tunisian government’s Dar el Maghreibia guest house, with two senior advisers present on each side. The ambassador would not talk about the meeting and referred all inquiries to the State Department.
Arafat said: “No one has the right to say what they asked of us or what we asked of them.”
Did the Americans ask him to stop the 15-month-old uprising in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip that has taken the lives of more than 400 Palestinians? “No one presented such a request and no one can ask a people to stop resisting an occupation,” he replied.
It was the second formal meeting since talks began in December, after Arafat publicly renounced terrorism and recognized Israel’s right to exist. There was no indication whether a third meeting was scheduled, but the PLO chief’s mood suggested that the dialogue will continue.
“The fact that the agenda was loaded with a lot of subjects to be discussed shows clearly the importance given to it both by the U.S. Administration and the PLO,” Arafat said. “Its importance is even greater if you take into consideration all the Israeli efforts to stop it.”
Arafat reiterated his demand for an international peace conference on the Middle East with the participation of the nations involved, the PLO and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: the United States, Soviet Union, China, Britain and France.
“This is the position announced by the Arab summits in Casablanca, Amman and Algiers and it is very similar and parallel to the European, Soviet, Chinese and nonaligned position on the same issue,” he said. “The American Administration is in principle for an international conference, but says it should be very well prepared.”