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Palestinian Aid Draws 45 Nations

November 26, 1998| Reuters

WASHINGTON — Forty-five countries have agreed to attend Monday's conference in Washington on aid to the Palestinians, and 17 of them will send ministers, U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The ministers include the foreign ministers of Austria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, officials said. Austria chairs the European Union, the largest single donor to the Palestinian territories.

Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, as the main beneficiary, will attend the one-day meeting at the State Department. Israeli Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon will miss the event because of political preoccupations at home.

The Israeli team will be led instead by Foreign Ministry Director-General Eytan Bentsur, Israel said Wednesday.

Only Syria and Lebanon turned down invitations to the conference. The United States hopes that the conference will raise notional pledges of at least $2.1 billion over five years--the amount disbursed to the Palestinians since 1993.

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