Special Announcement by the Press Secretary

(Foreign Minister's telephone conversation with the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization)

April 22, 2003

Ms Yoriko KAWAGUCHI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, had a telephone conversation with Chairman Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the afternoon of April 22 (Tokyo time). Following is an outline of the exchanges in the conversation.

Minister Kawaguchi raised the following points.

- Japan and the wider international community are paying closer attention to promotion of peace in the Middle East, in light of the regional situation following military action against Iraq. In particular, the ongoing formation of a cabinet under Prime Minister-designate of the Palestinian Authority Mr. Abu Mazen and the announcement of the 'roadmap' which follows are considered as important opportunities for advancing peace. Japan intends to support such efforts.

- However, I am aware that the formation of a cabinet is facing difficulties, and that if the list of members of the new cabinet is not tabled to the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) within the next few days, formal inauguration of Mr. Abu Mazen's premiership and the formation of his new cabinet would run aground.

- Japan regards the formation of the new cabinet as essential for Japan to support Palestinian reform efforts for state building. Furthermore Japan is concerned that without the formation of the new cabinet, the entire international community which supports promotion of peace in the Middle East and Palestinian reform efforts would be put in a difficult situation.

- I strongly desire that you seize this opportunity for promoting peace in the Middle East and render your support and cooperation in order for the new cabinet under Mr Abu Mazen, whom you have nominated to be the prime minister, to be inaugurated.

Chairman Arafat responded as follows.

- Fateh Central Committee has encouraged Mr Abu Mazen to table the list of his new cabinet to the PLC but he has been hesitating.

- Tomorrow is the last day of the period allowed for Mr Abu Mazen to form his cabinet, and I ask you to also encourage Mr Abu Mazen to table the list to PLC in time.

In response Minister Kawaguchi stressed again the importance for Chairman Arafat to support and cooperate the effort to form the new cabinet.

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