New York - The State Department protested angrily after learning that New York officials had thrown the PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, out of a classical music concert for leaders celebrating the UN's 50th anniversary.
New York's mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, defended his decision to eject Mr Arafat, shown above with an unidentified companion at the concert on Monday night, saying the Palestinian leader had not been invited and was using someone else's tickets. "When you're having a party, I would rather not have someone who has been implicated in the murders of Americans," said Mr Giuliani. It did not matter that Mr Arafat had twice been a guest at the White House and shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize: "If I had the discretion I would not invite Yasser Arafat to anything, anywhere, anytime, any place."
Mr Arafat, who was mobbed by autograph-seekers, was not told to leave until half-way through a performance of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. His departure went unnoticed by most concert-goers. A State Department spokesman, Nicholas Burns, said: "We don't think this is right. He's the leader of the Palestinian people and he is negotiating peace with Israel. He should be given the respect and dignity and hospitality in the United States that the leader of the Palestinian people deserves.". ReuterReuse content