Thursday, November 11, 2004

:: Xinhuanet - English ::Rafsanjani voices sorrow and regret over Arafat's death

:: Xinhuanet - English ::: "Iran extends condolences over demise of Arafat 2004-11-12 00:25:04

TEHRAN, Nov. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Iran on Thursday paid a rare tributeto Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on his death, hailing hisprominent role in defending Palestinians' legitimate rights andcalling on successive Palestinian leaders to continue the struggle.

"Doubtlessly, his eminent role over near half a century is notconcealed to any fair-minded and honest person. His name is nowtied to Palestine," the Iranian government said in a statement.

Expressing "great sadness" over Arafat's death, the statementsaid Arafat's demise ushered in "a new chapter in the legitimatestruggle of the oppressed Palestinian people."

The statement also urged the "young Palestinian leaders touphold this grave responsibility."

"The lofty aspirations of a nation as well as its identity donot die with the demise of its leaders. Rather, their deaths ormartyrdom enormously help consolidate those ideals," it added.

The statement also called for "a total end of the occupation ofthe Palestinian territories, the return of refugees and thecreation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."

"The experience has shown that Israel, which only understandsthe language of force and violence, is incapable of confronting theintifada (uprising) and the anger of Palestinians," it added.

Earlier, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi termed thedemise of Arafat as a "sad and moving event".

"The Islamic Republic of Iran offers condolences to theoppressed Palestinian people over the loss of Yasser Arafat andshares this tragedy with them," Asefi said.

"Yasser Arafat spent many years, especially his youth, in theway of defending the ideals of the Palestinian nation and fightingthe occupying Zionist regime," Asefi added.

Asefi said what was important for the Palestinians was to stayunited and understand the sensitivity of the situation to "confrontthe plots of the Zionist regime, which wants to take as muchadvantage as it can from Arafat's death."

Iran's former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani also voiced sorrow and regret over Arafat's death, offering his condolences tothe Palestinian people.

"Although Abu Ammar (nom de guerre of Arafat) did not achievehis life-long aspirations, it is hoped that the Palestinian partieswould put aside their differences and create a united front to leadthe resistant Palestinian people on the difficult road to savingtheir holy land," Rafsanjani said.

"I hope that the Palestinian groups would not let the Zionist occupiers manipulate the vacuum left by the loss of Yasser Arafatto create instability and mayhem in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,"he said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi will attend the officialfuneral ceremony, which is to be held at Friday noon in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Arafat was declared dead in a Paris military hospital Thursdaymorning aged 75. Enditem"


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