United Nations, N.Y. — UN to let Arafat forces use its flag during evacuation
With the unanimous support of the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar agreed that, for strictly humanitarian reasons, the ships that are about to evacuate Yasser Arafat and his 4,000 soldiers from besieged Tripoli will be allowed to run the UN flag alongside the flag of their country of origin , reports Monitor contributor Louis Wiznitzer.
The United States at first strongly opposed the move, arguing that it would give the PLO ''unwarranted prestige.''
According to reliable sources, it was Lebanese President Amin Gemayel, who persuaded the State Department to change its mind, by stressing that (1) Lebanon was more interested in getting rid of the PLO than in the way in which it departs and (2) that Arafat's departure would spare thousands of innocent civilian lives in Tripoli.
French, Greek, and Italian ships, chartered by Saudi Arabia, will take some of Arafat's men to North Yemen, and the others, including Arafat, to Tunis, where he has established his headquarters.
French warships will escort the private vessels carrying the remnants of the PLO forces, because, according to one well-placed source, Israelis and Syrians may not be deterred by the UN flag in trying to shoot and to sink Arafat.