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Latin American leaders mourn death of Arafat
www.chinaview.cn 2004-11-12 12:56:16

    MEXICO CITY, Nov. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Latin American leaders on Thursday expressed their condolences over the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who died earlier in the day at a French military hospital outside Paris.

    Cuban President Fidel Castro Ruz said he was in "deep sorrow" as he heard the news of Arafat's death.

    "At the moment of sadness, I am reminded of the lasting memories of meeting Comrade Arafat, a dear friend that I held along three decades," said the Cuban leader in a message sent to Palestinian Legislative Council Speaker Rawhi Fattouh.

    Castro also pledged Cuba's solidarity with and firm support forthe just cause of the Palestinian people. The Cuban government has declared a three-day official mourning for Arafat.

    Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva praised Arafat as"a historical leader of the Palestinian people's struggle for self-determination and independence," said a statement issued by the Brazilian government Thursday..

    "The Brazilian government reaffirms its support for the creation of a free and sovereign Palestinian state and the construction of a future of peace and prosperity in the Middle East."

    Lula sent a top-level representative to attend Arafat's funeralscheduled for Friday in Cairo, said sources of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry.

    In Mexico, the government, while expressing its condolences to the Palestinian people, reaffirmed its support for the creation ofan independent Palestinian state through peaceful means, said a statement of the Mexican Foreign Ministry.

    In Santiago, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos Escobar told reporters that Arafat "symbolized the desire of a people to forge its own destiny, the desire of the Palestinian people to have their own state with clearly established border."

    He also said he trusted the Palestinian authorities will continue its peace efforts in accordance with the principles of the international law.

    In Venezuela, Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel praised Arafatas "a hero of our times, an exemplary patriot," saying Arafat's death was a great loss for the world progressive forces.

    Meanwhile in Buenos Aires, Argentine President Nestor Kirchner sent his condolences Thursday to the Palestinian people through an official message, calling on all the parties involved in the Middle East conflict to spare no efforts to achieve peace through "dialogue and negotiation."

    In Bogota, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe sent a condolence message to Fattouh, saying "Colombia joins the recognition of the commitment and leadership of President Arafat with the Palestiniannation, the establishment of a sovereign state and the re-establishment of peace in the Middle East."

    Also on Thursday, Nicaraguan President Enrique Nicolas Bolanos Geyer lamented Arafat's passing away and wished peace and prosperity for the Palestinian people, said a message sent to Fattouh.

    Panamanian President Martin Torrijos Espino praised Arafat as "a historical Palestinian leader" and "one of the most understanding leaders of the present time," said a message sent tothe Palestinian National Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

    Also on Thursday, leaders of Bolivia, Uruguaya, Costa Rica and Guatemala joined the lament over Arafat's death. Enditem

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