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EU envoy informs Palestinians on progress for their fate
2002-05-20 08:29:48

Larnaca, May 20 (CNA) - EU Middle East envoy Miguel Angel Moratinos met here today with the 13 Palestinians brought to Cyprus after being released from Bethlehem's Nativity Church. He said the legal and political discussions in Brussels regarding which countries will take them in "have practically been finalised" and noted that EU deliberations will be wrapped up tomorrow.

Moratinos visited the Palestinians at their Larnaca hotel, accompanied by the Palestinian Authority's Representative in Cyprus Samir abu Gazhalleh, Spanish Ambassador to Cyprus Ignacio Garcia Valdecasas, and Head of the European Commission delegation on the island Donato Chiarini.

The Middle East envoy said "joint action will be finalised tomorrow, as there are still some small issues to be discussed" and expressed "hope that during today or no later than tomorrow the whole issue will be solved".|

"We are very close to an end. I have just come to inform the 13 Palestinians of the positive things", he added.

He said "once the final touches are made and thanks to the Cypriot government for its tremendous contribution, we hope that everything will be solved either today or tomorrow.

Asked if there was a preliminary agreement on the Palestinians' legal status, once they reach their host countries, Moratinos said "I think there is" and noted "it would have to be formalised tomorrow in Brussels".

"Today is the Pentecost, it is a holiday in Brussels, and they cannot have a formal session. There is a preliminary agreement on the status and there is a common status for all of them in any place they will remain", he added.

Invited to elaborate on the Palestinians' future status, Moratinos said "I prefer to wait for the formal decision".

Replying to questions, the EU envoy said the Palestinians would be considered free citizens in the countries that will take them in and that the whole situation would be monitored.

He added that he is "in permanent contact" on the issue with Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides "every hour".

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