With a flat "no," Secretary of State George Shultz on Wednesday rejected a move in the United Nations that he reverse himself and grant PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat a visa to speak to the General Assembly.
He said that his decision was based on U.S. law and that the controversy "shows how easy it is for people to forget the devastation which terrorism can wreak on a country."Shultz repeated his assertions that Arafat was an "accessory" to acts of terrorism by the Palestine Liberation Organization against Americans and Israelis. At the same time, Shultz rejected a suggestion the "international row" raised by his decision could be a blot on his last days as secretary of state.
"I operated within the framework of a law here," Shultz replied. "If the thing I am remembered most for is a great resolve to resist and combat terrorism, I won't feel that's a blot on my record. I'll feel that is a proud accomplishment."
The General Assembly's legal committee voted 121-2 Tuesday night to ask the State Department to grant Arafat a U.S. visa. Only the United States and Israel were opposed.
That was an indication of how lopsided the vote was likely to be Wednesday afternoon when the 159-member General Assembly took up an Arab-sponsored resolution deploring Shultz's decision.
The General Assembly then is expected to take the unprecedented step of voting Friday to move the debate to the U.N. European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.