United Nations — President Reagan might boycott the United Nation’s 40th birthday celebration if PLO chairman Yasser Arafat attends, a USS. Official said Friday.

Although Arafat has not been invited to attend the Oct. 1424 ceremonies, a resolution introduced this week by India and five other nonaligned countries would have the Assembly invite Arafat and Sam Nujoma, president of the South West Africa People’s Organization.

Because of the controversy and continuing negotiations, a vote on the resolution has been delayed until Monday, according to Jose Sobrino, spokesman for Assembly President Jaime de Pinies of Spain.

The U.S. official, who spoke on condition he not be identified, said the United States would “reevaluate the level and extent of its participation” if Arafat participates in the celebration.

Asked if that meant Reagan might cancel his planned Oct. 24 address, the official said, “Anything is possible. We’re hoping not to have to make that decision.”

The resolution comes on the heels of the hijacking of an Italian ship by Palestinian terrorists who killed an elderly American tourist, Leon Klinghoffer of New York City.

Thursday night, U.S.military planes intercepted an Egyptian military plane carrying the hijackers and two PLO officials to Tunisia and forced it to land at a NATO base in Sicily where the terrorists were handed over to Italian authorities.

Farouk Kaddoumi, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s political department, took the floor in the U.N. Security Council and accused the United States of “‘air piracy.”

“Isn’t this in fact a very official terrorism, terrorism by a superpower which claims to want peace and resist terrorism but exercises this sort of terrorism and piracy,” he said.

The United States and its supporters tried to find formulas to keep the resolution to invite Arafat from coming to a vote.

Indian Ambassador Natarajan Krishnan, under pressure to drop the resolution, said the sponsors and de Pinies were still negotiating.

If it comes to a vote, the resolution is expected to receive the necessary two thirds majorities from the 159member Assembly, which overwhelmingly supports the PLO cause.

However, U.S. Ambassador Vernon Walters, when asked about the Arafat invitation, told reporters he did not think the Palestinlan leader would accept.

Asked what the U.S. Stance would be if he did, come, Walters said, “I believe you should never tell anybody what you are going to do in advance.”

There was speculation that a formula for averting a showdown might involve prior agreement from the PLO that Arafat would turn down the invitation because of the security problems his visit would pose.

Article extracted from this publication >>  October 18, 1985