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Arafat Urges Arab Leaders To Convene Emergency Summit - 2001-07-31

As the Israeli-Palestinian violence continue, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is stepping up efforts to convene an emergency Arab summit.

Yasser Arafat has been to Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan in an effort to persuade the Arab world to increase support for the Palestinians. Among other things, the Palestinian leader wants Arab leaders to convene an emergency summit to focus on helping Palestinians in their 10 month uprising against Israeli occupation.

In remarks Tuesday, Mr. Arafat said Tunisia's president "warmly received" his proposal for an emergency summit on the Middle East.

Saudi Arabian leaders reportedly told Mr. Arafat they support the idea of a summit but also said there should be further consultations with other Arab countries. Saudi Arabia has given the Palestinian Authority $30 million in aid and is pledging $250 million more.

Jordan, a country that has made peace with Israel, has so far not made any commitment to support a summit, but it has a large Palestinian population, which is likely to pressure the government to back a summit.

The next stop on Mr. Arafat's itinerary is Egypt. A spokesman for the Palestinian leader told VOA that Mr. Arafat hopes to meet with President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria on Wednesday. Observers say Egypt's support is crucial to the Palestinian leaders' hopes for a summit.