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Blair pays tribute to Arafat
November 11, 2004
London, England, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair described Yasser Arafat as an icon of the Palestinian movement, as he offered condolences on Arafat's death Thursday.

"He lead his people to an historic acceptance of the need for a two-state solution," said the prime minister in a statement from Downing Street.

Arafat died of multiple organ failure Thursday morning in a French hospital near Paris at the age of 75. He had led the Palestinian people for four decades.

French President Jacques Chirac described him as "man of courage and conviction who, for 40 years, has incarnated the Palestinians' combat for recognition of their national rights."

Many analysts view his death as an opportunity to restart the Middle East peace process. Jerry Lewis of Israel Radio in London told the BBC Israelis "will not regret" the death of a man who talked about peace but never delivered.

Blair reiterated his dedication to the peace process, which he said "must be the international community's highest priority." He is expected to convey that sentiment to U.S. President George Bush during his current two-day visit to Washington.

Source: The Washington Times

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