PLO to appoint government for declared state

The Palestine Liberation Organization plans to appoint a government-in-exile within three months, following its declaration of an independent Palestinian state, The Times of London reports. The newspaper yesterday quoted senior PLO executive committee member Yasser Abed-Rabbo as saying the decision was taken because of the better-than-expected response to the Palestinian declaration of independence on Nov. 15.

``The differences over the creation of the government of Palestine are almost all overcome, and we will be appointing a broad-based government from all the PLO groups, ranging from Muslims to Marxists, within two to three months,'' he said.

Mr. Abed-Rabbo, a member of the left-wing Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led a Palestinian delegation to talks with United States officials in Tunis on Friday, the first direct contact between the two for 13 years.

He said the new government would include absentee members from the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. About 70 countries have so far recognized the Palestinian state.

In Vienna, meanwhile, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat met with Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzky as part of Arafat's efforts to drum up European support for an independent Palestine.

Asked by a journalist whether he thought a Palestinian state would exist within five years, Arafat replied with a beaming smile: ``Before that.''

He later met Foreign Minister Alois Mock who agreed to accept the upgrading to ambassador of the PLO's permanent representative to Austria.

``We call on Israel to respond to the PLO's move ... and to give peace in the Middle East a chance,'' Mr. Mock said after his talks with Arafat.

Austria, which last week recognized the declaration of an independent Palestinian state, plans to appoint its ambassador to Tunisia as political representative to the PLO.

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