KUWAIT — Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat called Monday for an Arab boycott of American products to protest U.S. policy in the Mideast, saying "those who use Cadillacs can use Mercedes and Peugeots instead."
Arafat also said that the PLO has been working for the release of three Soviet Embassy officials kidnaped Sept. 30 by Muslim extremists in Beirut.
The call for a boycott underlined a new anti-American spirit that Arafat has shown since an Oct. 1 Israeli air raid on his Tunisian headquarters that killed more than 60 people. Israel said it carried out the raid to avenge the Sept. 25 slayings in Larnaca, Cyprus, of three Israelis, a crime Jerusalem blamed on PLO terrorists.
Arafat also praised what he termed "the popular" anti-American uprising in Egypt and a recent decision by Egyptian doctors and pharmacies to boycott American medicines in the aftermath of the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro.
Thousands of Egyptians have demonstrated in Cairo and burned American and Israeli flags to protest the Israeli air strike and the interception by U.S. warplanes of an Egyptian jetliner carrying the four Palestinians who hijacked the Achille Lauro and their accused leader, a member of the PLO Executive Council.
Arafat arrived here Saturday from Baghdad, Iraq. He is touring Arab nations in an attempt to muster support for convening an extraordinary Arab summit conference to discuss the situation in the region in the wake of the Israeli raid.
He said that the PLO is making efforts to release the three Soviets abducted in West Beirut, presumably by Muslim fundamentalists. The Soviet Union has in the past supported Arafat.
"The kidnaping of the diplomats constitutes a big crisis, which should not have been conducted against a friend," he said.
A fourth kidnaped Soviet Embassy official, consular secretary Arkady Katkov, was killed. His body was found Oct. 2 in southern Beirut.