Rep. Paul Findley (R-Ill.) said yesterday that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has agreed to a televised question-answer session with Findley and other U.S. congressmen and officials in Beirut.
The purpose of the interview, Findley said, would be to determine present Palestine Liberation Organization positions on Middle East issues and also to give Arafat an opportunity to improve his image in the United States.
Findley, who has met twice privately with Arafat, said he had proposed the televised discussion to the PLO leader and told him that "I felt his PR was really pretty bad. I felt that if a more relaxed interview were held, he and his views would come through better."
Findley, ranking Republican member of the Middle East subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said no date has been set for the meeting.
A leftist Lebanese newspaper, Al Liwa, said yesterday, however, that Palestinians expect the meeting to take place soon.
Al Liwa said, "The Palestinian-American dialogue will shortly be transferred to Beirut" when Findley, "flies in to meet Yasser Arafat. Their meeting would be televised and it would clarify the PLO's stand toward [U.N. Security Council] Resolution 242."
The PLO has long rejected Resolution 242 because it simply refers to the Palestinians as refugees.
An Nahar, another Lebanese newspaper, quoted "informed sources" in Washington as saying Zahdi Tarazy, head of the PLO's observer delegation at the United Nations, delivered a letter from Arafat to Findley in a meeting. The newspaper did not give any further details.