|Friday, 12 November 2004|
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse in a message of condolence on the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said he was extremely sad to hear the passing away of the Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat. He was the undisputed leader of the Palestinian people.
The message: "President Arafat who was an engineer by profession joined the Palestine National Movement early in his youth. He became the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 1980, a position which he held until his demise.
His life was dedicated to gaining an independent Palestinian State. He always advocated a settlement by negotiation and mutual understanding and not by violence. His demise is an irreparable loss to the Palestinian people and their struggle.
President Arafat was a true friend of Sri Lanka. He called on President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and the then Prime Minister, the late Sirimavo Bandaranaike during his visit to Sri Lanka in March 1997. I had the privilege of being the Minister-in-Attendance during President Arafat's visit.
Sri Lanka has been always supporting the struggle led by President Arafat for the right to a homeland for the Palestinian people. Sri Lanka continues to support UN Resolutions 242 and 338 which recognises the inalienable rights of Palestinian people including the right to a homeland.
In recognition of the struggle of the Palestinian people, Sri Lanka accepted Palestine as a State in 1988. The Embassy of PLO was renamed as the Embassy of the State of Palestine on February 6, 1989.
In this hour of grief of the Palestinian people, on behalf of the Government of Sri Lanka and our people, I, as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and as the President of the Sri Lanka-Palestine Solidarity Association, convey my deepest sympathies to the Palestinian people and the members of President Yasser Arafat's family."
PM to attend Arafat funeral
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse will attend the funeral of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, a spokesman said yesterday.
"The prime minister will be at the funeral although he had arranged to launch a new initiative for reviving the country's southern region this weekend," the spokesman said.
Arafat's funeral will be held in Cairo on Friday.
The premier was a close ally of Arafat and for the past 25 years was president of the Sri Lankan Committee for Solidarity with Palestine.
Rajapakse hosted Arafat in Colombo during his last visit here in March 1997. - AFP
Produced by Lake House