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US Voices Opposition to Expulsion of Arafat - 2003-09-11


The United States is making clear its opposition to the expulsion of Yasser Arafat from Palestinian territory, as decided on in principle by Israel's security cabinet. U.S. officials say Mr. Arafat might be more disruptive to Middle East peace effort than he is now, if we went into exile.

The Bush administration has strongly supported a political boycott of Mr. Arafat, and has had no direct contact with him since last June when President Bush called on Palestinians to shift power to an independent prime minister. But briefing reporters, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said expelling Mr. Arafat would "not be helpful at all" and would only give him an international stage from which to frustrate regional peace efforts.

"Our view on Mr. Arafat hasn't changed. And our view is that he is part of the problem not part of the solution. At the same time, we think it would not be helpful to expel him because it would just give him another stage to play on," he said.

Mr. Boucher said the United States wants to see Palestinian security forces, now partially run by Mr. Arafat, put under the unified command of Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Korei, so that a new government can put an end to terrorist activity by groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

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