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'A significant moment in Palestinian history'
November 11, 2004 12:44 IST
World leaders condoled the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat on Thursday.
US President George W Bush said the death of Arafat is a 'significant moment' in the history of the Palestinian people.
"For the Palestinian people, we hope the future will bring peace and the fulfillment of their aspirations for an independent, democratic Palestine that is at peace with its neighbours," Bush said in a statement issued by the White House.
Israeli President Moshe Katsav expressed hope that the death of the Palestinian leader would allow his successors to open a "new chapter" in their relations with the Jewish state.
"I hope the new Palestinian leadership will take a new path with a view to putting an end to terrorism and violence, which would allow a resumption of negotiations," he said.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is deeply moved by the death of "Yasser Arafat, who symbolised the national aspirations of the Palestinian people", Annan's spokesman said in a statement.
The passing away of Arafat, Annan said, must intensify the search for peace in the Middle East.
"President Arafat will always be remembered for having, in 1988, led the Palestinians to accept the principle of a peaceful co-existence with Israel and a future Palestinian state."
Chinese President Hu Jintao also mourned the death of Arafat, calling him "a brilliant leader" and "a great friend" of China. He urged Palestinians to continue efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.
Describing Arafat as an "enduring symbol" of Palestinian nationhood, Indian President A P J Abdul Kalam said in his death the Palestinian people have not only lost a great patriot but also a great visionary whose ambition was to achieve a homeland for his people.
In a condolence letter to Palestinian Legislative Council speaker and acting president of the Palestinian National Authority Rawahi Fattough, Kalam said Arafat was greatly admired for his courage and sacrifice not only by the Palestinian people but also by peace-loving people in the Arab region and throughout the world.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, in his condolences to Mr Arafat's family, reiterated his commitment to peace in the Middle East. "President Arafat came to symbolise the Palestinian national movement," he said in a statement.