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Arafat to Visit Syria

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will visit Syria September 12 and 13 marking a possible end to years of animosity over the issue of how to achieve peace in the Middle East.

Ties between the Palestinian leader and Syria were damaged in 1993. That's when Mr. Arafat signed peace accords with Israel giving Palestinians limited self-rule over parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Syria condemned the deal, reached during secret talks in Oslo. Syria said it deprived Palestinians of their basic rights and undermined an Arab effort at peace talks with Israel that began in Madrid in 1991.

But relations between Mr. Arafat and Syria began to improve last year after Bashar al-Assad came to power following the death of his father Hafez al-Assad.

The new Syrian president has supported the idea of exchanging land for peace in Mr. Arafat's now-stalled negotiations with Israel.

Palestinian Planning and International Cooperation Minister Nabil Shaath said, "Our Syrian brothers have recognized that Israeli aggression required the highest level of Arab cooperation and coordination to deter it."

Mr. Shaath said the talks between the two presidents would cover ways and means of supporting the Palestinian uprising.