Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat arrived in Cairo on Saturday for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the Palestinian question.
He was expected to discuss the broad outlines of his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on December 13, now that its debate on Palestine has been shifted from New York to Geneva.Egyptian officials said Thursday they would like to turn international criticism of Washington's decision to deny Arafat a visa to address the assembly in New York to Palestinian advantage.
"Of course we cannot dictate to Arafat what he is going to say," Egyptian presidential adviser Osama al-Baz told reporters.
"But we can give him our advice -- that is precisely what Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and many Arab countries are contacting the Palestinian leadership about."
Arafat, the third Arab leader to visit Cairo in a week, was also expected to discuss the outcome of Mubarak's earlier talks with Iraq's President Saddam Hussein and Jordan's King Hussein.
Western diplomats said the four leaders appeared to be forging a new moderate Arab alliance after last month's meeting of the Palestine National Council (PNC) which endorsed U.N. resolutions implicitly recognizing Israel.
Arafat last visited Cairo on November 21, a day after Egypt recognized the Palestinian state proclaimed by the PNC, the Palestinian parliament-in-exile.
Arafat told reporters at Cairo airport that he would meet Mubarak on Sunday to coordinate policies.
On Washington's decision to deny him a visa, he said: "My only comment is that more than 150 friendly countries have voted for moving the debate to Geneva."