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Italy's Berlusconi urges Arafat to quit
Reuters | June 27, 2002

Posted on 06/27/2002 11:26:03 AM PDT by HAL9000

KANANASKIS, Alberta, June 27 (Reuters) - Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat should book himself a place in history and stand down, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Thursday, backing a U.S. call for a change in Palestinian leadership.

Berlusconi, who has forged close ties with the Arab world since taking office last year, told reporters the international community was ready to help Palestinians as long as they set up a transparent democracy.

"Many people are convinced that Arafat, a winner of the Nobel peace prize, should make a generous gesture and move aside," Berlusconi said on the final morning of a two day meeting of major power leaders.

"If I were President Arafat I would make a grand gesture that would enable him to go down forever in history as the man who gave everything for the freedom of his country," he said.

U.S. President George W. Bush told Palestinians earlier this week that they must pick new leaders "not compromised by terror" as a precondition to setting up a Palestinian state.

Berlusconi said the move had "basically de-legitimised the current Palestinian leadership", rendering pointless calls from some quarters, including French President Jacques Chirac, for an international Middle East Peace conference, he added.

G8 leaders discussed the Israeli-Palestinian crisis over supper on Wednesday night and Berlusconi said no-one had lined up against Bush, although Chirac had "insisted" on the need for a new peace conference.

He told reporters that the leaders had discussed the possibility of Arafat winning a fresh mandate in elections slated for January 2003, but had not come to any conclusions.

"There might be some probability of success (if) Palestinian people realise there is a huge line up of world forces ready to help concretely and in a massive fashion...if they plant on that territory a real, transparent democracy," he said.

He added that there were well-founded suspicions the current Palestinian leadership was corrupt and backed terror groups.

Asked if wealthy nations would halt all aid to Palestinians if Arafat were re-elected, Berlusconi said: "Our discussions did not get that far."

He also left the door open to Arafat staying in power, saying Bush never mentioned the Palestinian leader by name, and indicating that the problem could lie with Arafat's entourage rather than the Palestinian president himself.

Berlusconi has presented himself as a possible mediator in the Middle East crisis and offered last month to host a peace summit in Italy. "Events have obviously moved on since then," he said on Thursday.

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: arafat; berlusconi; bush; italy

1 posted on 06/27/2002 11:26:03 AM PDT by HAL9000
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To: HAL9000

the Case of the Freeper FRiva Feva is under scrutiny - super-sleuths are welcomed
come resolve the way to yesterday's Target Post, you're not out of the running yet
win your registration fees to the FRive Las Vegas Conference if you dare

2 posted on 06/27/2002 11:28:06 AM PDT by DoughtyOne
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To: HAL9000
Mr. Arafat. I make you a sweet offer you can not refuse. By morning your signature will be on these resignation papers or you brains will be on these resignation papers
3 posted on 06/27/2002 11:40:28 AM PDT by oyez
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To: oyez
His Swineness thinks his filth encrusted kaffiyeh will proect him from la pistola. Hopefully, he will sleep with the scorpions.
4 posted on 06/27/2002 11:44:24 AM PDT by sheik yerbouty
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To: HAL9000
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is the only top level European leader with any palle .
5 posted on 06/27/2002 11:53:35 AM PDT by LA-Lawyer
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To: LA-Lawyer
What's palle? Is that like cojones?
6 posted on 06/27/2002 12:03:03 PM PDT by wimpycat
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To: wimpycat
Exactly like cajones
7 posted on 06/27/2002 5:44:49 PM PDT by LA-Lawyer
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