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Arafat sets conditions; Gemayel to visit Damascus

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat reaffirmed Sunday that he would not leave this besieged port if his followers here were unprotected, but pressure from the Soviet Union and Arab leaders continued to keep Syrian-backed Palestinian rebels from pursuing Mr. Arafat into the city.

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Earlier, a close Arafat aide said the PLO chairman was demanding an Arab observer force to monitor the fragile truce in northern Lebanon, which took effect late Wednesday, and the retreat of rebel Palestinian forces to eastern Lebanon.

He said Arafat would not accept rebel demands for a conference to resolve internal PLO problems until these conditions were met.

Meanwhile, Lebanese President Amin Gemayel's planned meeting in Damascus with Syrian President Hafez Assad was postponed due to a sudden illness suffered by Assad, Lebanese officals said.

They said Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel-Halim Khaddam would visit Beirut Thrusday to prepare for Gemayel's visit to Damascus at an unspecified date when the Syrian president recovers.

Mr. Assad is expected to pressure Mr. Gemayel to scrap last May's troop withdrawal pact with Israel.

Tension was high over the weekend after the United States confirmed that Syrian ground missiles were fired on US F-14 Tomcats flying over Syrian positions in northern Lebanon.

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