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Ahern's statement 
11th-Nov-2004 03:10 pm

Taoiseach: 'Great regret' at Arafat death

11/11/2004 - 08:11:12

Statement by the Taoiseach on the death of Yasser Arafat:

"It is with great regret that I learned today of the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. I offer my condolences, thoughts and prayers to the late President's family and to the Palestinian people on the loss of a great leader and a great man.

Throughout the life of the Middle East Peace Process, President Arafat has always been a key symbol of national unity for the Palestinian people. Since the Palestinian Authority came into being with the Oslo accords, President Arafat has been an indispensable actor in the continuing, and till now tragically frustrated, efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution of the conflict on the basis of two states living in peace within secure and agreed borders.

"It is perhaps the most tragic aspect of President Arafat's death that he did not live to see the fruition of his ambition of a Palestinian state, despite the early promise which attended his election as President of the Palestinian Authority.

"We must wish his successors every success in their efforts to carry forward this vision. Ireland, in common with its EU partners, stands ready to assist and support the Palestinian people in these endeavours.

"I regarded President Arafat as a friend of Ireland and, indeed, a personal friend. I recall our many meetings in past years, including during my visit to Gaza in 1998, when there seemed to be so many reasons to be optimistic about the prospects of a two-state solution becoming a reality.

"It is tragic that the vision we shared at that time has been frustrated by the subsequent descent into violence and mutual recrimination.

"He will be greatly missed."
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