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Source: Secretary-General
8 November 2004




New York, 8 November 2004 - Secretary-General's press encounter as he departed public lecture series on "Why Music Matters"

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Q: Yasser Arafat: you talked about him and the legacy, but what about the UN as an organization? How extensive has the focus been on the Palestinian issue here in this building over the decades? There are so many committees, and how much of that is attributable to his icon status?

Q: I think he has played an important leadership role for the Palestinian people, in putting the issue on the international agenda and symbolizing the Palestinian aspiration, and I think in a way that's what you are referring to when you talk about how this Organization treated him almost as a Head of State. But I think now that he's sick, as I've said, I wish him well, but the important thing is the arrangements that he and the Palestinians have made for smooth and effective succession in putting in a leadership which will pursue their aspirations.

Q: You've been at the UN a long time. Kind of a famous moment when he spoke to the General Assembly in November 1974. Did he have a gun, or a holster? What was that in your opinion?

SG: I really don't recall. Honestly. I really don't recall that.

Q: It may be a little too early to bury Mr. Arafat.

SG: Absolutely. It is a bit too early. I mean, he's still alive…

Q: But he has said that he would like to be buried in Jerusalem…Do you think that is going to cause a tremendous difficulty? Where would you stand?

SG: I don't think it's where I stand that matters. I think the Palestinians are making arrangements and I'm sure they're discussing where he should be buried, and I will leave them to sort that one out.

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