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UN Gives Arafat Head of State Tribute


The United Nations has accorded Yasser Arafat honors as a head of state, holding a tribute in the General Assembly and flying the flag at half staff. From U.N. headquarters,

The hour-long General Assembly tribute featured eulogies from ambassadors representing each of the world's regions, as well as Islamic and Arab groups. Such tributes are usually reserved for sitting heads of state.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan described Mr. Arafat as one of those few leaders instantly recognizable by people around the world. He said Mr. Arafat's signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords was a giant step in realizing the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace.

"It is tragic that he did not live to see it fulfilled," he said. "Now that he has gone, both Israelis and Palestinians, and friends of both peoples throughout the world, must make even greater efforts to bring about the peaceful realization of the Palestinian right of self-determination."

United Nations flags were flown at half-staff during the day, in keeping with practice for heads of state. Spokesman Fred Eckhard said Secretary-General Annan requests the honor for Mr. Arafat.

"The General Assembly over the years has accorded President Arafat the status of Head of State," he said, "and it was decided to accord him that same status in death as in life and that was the Secretary General's proposal and the General Assembly agreed with that."

The United States was represented in the crowded Assembly hall by public delegate Susan Moore. Washington Ambassador John Danforth earlier issued a brief statement echoing comment made by President Bush. He called Mr. Arafat's death a significant moment in Palestinian history, and offered condolences to the family.