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Arafat Uncertain To Attend Crans-Montana Conference

Crans Montana, June 20 (RFE/RL) - Officials at the Crans-Montana conference in Switzerland say it is now uncertain whether Palestinian President Yasser Arafat will attend or not.

Officials said Arafat was now in Cairo after a trip to Asia but there was no information on whether he would join the four-days of political and economic talks which begin this afternoon.

Senior politicians from East and Western Europe are attending the conference and Arafat had been expected to seek more financial aid for the independent Palestinian state.

Original plans had called for a private meeting this afternoon between Arafat and the former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres on how the Middle East peace process might be affected by the change of government in Israel. But Peres has now said he is unlikely to attend the conference.

Officials said it is possible he and Arafat may still hold a discussion and press conference by satellite. Peres will participate by satellite in this evening's ceremony in Crans-Montana to honor the murdered Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

A note circulated at the conference today said that because of the political situation in Russia no member of the Moscow government was expected to attend.