Top Palestinian officials fly to Arafat's bedside

9th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 8 (AFP) - Four of Yasser Arafat's top lieutenants arrived at an airport outside Paris Monday to visit the ailing Palestinian leader in hospital, police said.

PARIS, Nov 8 (AFP) - Four of Yasser Arafat's top lieutenants arrived at an airport outside Paris Monday to visit the ailing Palestinian leader in hospital, police said.

The private plane carrying prime minister Ahmed Qorei, acting Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) leader Mahmud Abbas, parliament speaker Rawhi Fattuh and foreign minister Nabil Shaath touched down at Le Bourget airport north of Paris at 9:45 pm (2045 GMT) after a flight from the Jordanian capital Amman.

The four later left the airport in a car for Paris, but their precise destination was unclear.

They are to meet with French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier on Tuesday morning and with President Jacques Chirac in the afternoon. They are also scheduled to see Arafat in order to confirm his state of health.

The four had earlier decided to shelve the visit after Arafat's wife, Suha Arafat, accused them of trying to "bury him alive", but later changed their minds.

"Tomorrow they will see the French officials and will visit president Arafat in his hospital," Arafat's chief advisor Nabil Abu Rudeina told reporters at the airport. Asked if the delegation expected any problems because of Suha Arafat's statement, he said: "no, there is no problem at all."

Arafat, 75, has been at the French military hospital in Clamart outside since October 29.

Earlier Monday, the French armed forces health department described Arafat's condition as "stable" but said doctors have restricted visits to his bedside.

"President Arafat's medical condition forces us to restrict visits to him," the chief surgeon of the military health department, Christain Estripeau, told reporters.

"The present statement has been made with respect for the discretion demanded by Mrs Arafat, his wife," he said.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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