The Chief of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Mr. Yasser Arafat, has been in the?
The Chief of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Mr. Yasser Arafat, has been in the Turkish capital of Ankara for the official opening of a PLO office there. Reuters news agency said his visit was the highest official contact ever made between the PLO and the Turkish government.
SYNOPSIS: Turkey's Acting Foreign Minister Hikmet Cetin, headed the welcoming party which greeted Yasser Arafat at Ankara airport on Friday (5 October). Three years ago, Turkey said it would allow the PLO to set up a mission in Ankara, but neither side made any moves until recently, and it took a blood-stained incident to set the wheels turning.
In mid-July, four Palestinian gunmen seized the Egyptian Embassy in Ankara. Claiming they were from a breakaway group -- the Eagles of the Palestinian Revolution -- the gunmen killed two Turkish security guards and took a number of embassy personnel hostage. PLO leaders in Beirut condemned the attack, and a delegation they sent to Ankara persuaded the guerrillas to surrender without further bloodshed. This PLO action prompted Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, to proclaim solidarity that paved the way to opening the mission.
Mr. Arafat described the people of Turkey as living witness to the Palestinian cause. He recalled that, during the days of the Ottoman Empire, the Turks had been the first to reject what he called Zionist demands in the Middle East.
Mr. Arafat was told during his visit that Turkey would continue to defend the national rights of Palestine, including their desire to form their own State.