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French FM: Natural for Palestinian Officials to See Arafat

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier says he believes senior Palestinian leaders who are in Paris to see ailing Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat should be allowed to do so.

Speaking to French public television, Mr. Barnier described the Palestinian officials who arrived late Monday -- Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, his predecessor Mahmoud Abbas, and Foreign Minister Nabil Sha'ath -- as old friends of Mr. Arafat.

The officials had initially canceled the trip to visit Mr. Arafat in a Paris hospital after the Palestinian leader's wife, Suha, accused them of plotting a coup against her husband.

French hospital officials, who describe Mr. Arafat's condition as critical but stable, have limited visits to his bedside.

The Palestinian delegation is to due discuss Mr. Arafat's condition with Mr. Barnier and French President Jacques Chirac later today.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.