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World Reaction to Arafat's Death Pouring In - 2004-11-11


Leaders around the world are reacting to the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

In Washington, President Bush expressed American condolences to the Palestinian people. A White House statement said the death of Mr. Arafat is "a significant moment" in Palestinian history. It also expressed hope that the future will bring peace and the fulfillment of Palestinian aspirations for an independent, democratic state.

There has been no official reaction from Israel. But Israel's President Moshe Katsav issued a statement, saying the death of Mr. Arafat may signal, what he called, the start of a new chapter.

Earlier, Israeli radio reported that Justice Minister Tommy Lapid welcomed the news of Mr. Arafat's death, saying it is good that the world is rid of him, because he was the father of terrorism.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Mr. Arafat was a symbol of the Palestinian movement who worked towards peace in the Middle East -- adding that his award of the 1994 Noble Peace Prize with then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had been in "recognition of their efforts to achieve peace."

Chinese President Hu Jintao said Mr. Arafat was a great friend of China and his death is a great loss for the Palestinian people.

And U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said Mr. Arafat will always be remembered for having led the Palestinian people to accept the principle of peaceful coexistence of a future Palestinian state with Israel.

Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.

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