INTRODUCTION: The leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Yasser Arafat, arrived in Moscow for talks with top Soviet officials on Monday (4 April).
INTRODUCTION: The leader of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, Yasser Arafat, arrived in Moscow for talks with top Soviet officials on Monday (4 April). He's heading a powerful Palestinian delegation to discuss the Middle East Situation. Mr. Arafat is also expected to seek fresh Soviet assurance of continued backing for his cause.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Arafat hasn't visited Moscow for more than a year. Observers in the Soviet capital say it's likely he'll ask Soviet leaders how the United States Middle East policy has been presented to them by the U.S. Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance. He's also expected to brief them on the outcome of last month's Palestine National Council meeting, which adopted a slightly harder programme than previously, calling for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Accompanying Mr. Arafat were members of most of the Palestinian commando groups.
On the day of his arrival, the Soviet government newspaper Izvestia re-affirmed Moscow's backing for the Palestinian cause, and attacked President Jimmy Carter's ideas on a Middle East settlement. Mr. Arafat and Soviet leaders are also expected to review prospects for re-convening the 1973 Geneva Middle East peace conference.
However, western observers say the newspaper comment suggests a continuing wide divergence on the issue between the Soviet Union and the United States on key questions. The two countries are the conference's co-chairmen.