Arafat arrives in Greece

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat arrived in Athens today to attend a governing socialist party convention and meet with Greek political leaders.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat arrived in Athens today to attend a governing socialist party convention and meet with Greek political leaders.

Arafat will address the four-day emergency convention tomorrow, the second time he has done so in the past two and-a-half years.

He last spoke at a socialist party convention in March 1999. He arrived from an Organisation of the Islamic Conference meeting in Qatar and is expected to remain in Athens for one day.

Shortly after his arrival, Arafat met with conservative opposition leader Costas Caramanlis and other politicians. He will meet Premier Costas Simitis tomorrow.

Arafat declined to make any comment after the meetings, but Caramanlis indicated they discussed the American reaction to the September 11 terrorist attacks during their talks.

‘‘It is important for the international community to create this very big alliance against terrorism, and we agreed that no one can used the just struggle of the Palestinian people as an attempt to give cover to terrorist activities. We are absolute on this,’’ Caramanlis said.

According to sources close to the talks, Arafat twice interrupted his meetings after receiving phone calls from United States Secretary of State Colin Powell. During the calls they discussed the results of the Islamic conference, the sources said.

Arafat has sought to distance his government from Osama bin Laden.

Israeli Transport Minister Ephraim Sneh will attend the convention on Friday, but there were no plans for him to meet Arafat.

The convention was called last June after Simitis admitted a lack of public confidence in his Panhellenic Socialist Movement, or PASOK, was hurting the government. One of its tasks will be to re-elect Simitis as party leader.

Although Simitis is sure to be re-elected, the reformist premier faces problems from party stalwarts seeking to preserve the Socialists’ welfare-state roots.

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