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Palestinian Officials Ignore Plea, Go To See Arafat

8 November 2004 -- Palestinian leaders who flew out of Jordan to visit critically ill Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a Paris hospital have arrived in France.

Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath, PLO Secretary-General Mahmud Abbas, and parliament speaker Rawhi Fattuh flew to France despite a scathing verbal attack by Arafat's wife, who accused them of plotting to "bury him alive."

Suha Arafat told Arabic Al-Jazeera satellite television that the visit was a plot against her 75-year-old husband.

But Muhammad Rashid, a senior aide to Arafat, said the visit is necessary and it is a matter of national interest.

"This is a huge, huge responsibility, and the people here, President Arafat's advisers and representatives, cannot handle it alone. It is a national case. It is not a family case, or a president's office case. It is now a national case," Rashid said.

The four are scheduled to discuss Arafat's medical condition with senior French officials. They were also scheduled to see French President Jacques Chirac tomorrow.