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Extraordinary Geneva Session on PLO Cost U.N. $645,500 With AM-Arafat

December 13, 1988

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ A special U.N. General Assembly session in Geneva to hear PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat on the Palestine problem will cost the world body about $645,500, a U.N. official said Tuesday.

The General Assembly voted this month to meet in Geneva to hear Arafat after the U.S. State Department refused him a visa to speak at U.N. headquarters in New York. U.S. officials said they took the action because Arafat was tied to terrorism.

Arafat spoke on Tuesday and asked Israeli leaders to join peace talks.

The move to Geneva represents the first time in the 43-year history of the United Nations that a session has been moved to protest a decision by a host country.

All U.N. member states, including the United States and Israel, will be assessed for their share of the costs, said Fred Eckhard, the U.N.’s chief financial spokesman. Israel also opposed granting a visa to the chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The United States will be asked to pay 25 percent of the special session’s costs, totaling $161,375. Israel will be assessed their usual 0.2 percent, totaling about $1,420.

Washington’s U.N. Mission sent its permanent representative, Gen. Vernon A. Walters, two political advisers, and a legal counsel, said mission spokeswoman Caroline Dulin.

Most costs of the session come from conference services and travel, said Bock Cheng Yeo, a spokesman for the assembly’s budget committee.

The costs of the session include: $390,200 for conference services, such as overtime for translators and broadcast specialists; $159,800 for air tickets for the president of the General Assembly, a U.N. Secretariat officer, a security officer, one delegate from each of the 40 least developed nations among the U.N.’s 159 member states; and $67,700 for air tickets for Secretary- General Javier Perez de Cuellar, seven of his senior staff and 16 lower- ranking staffers.

Yeo said an austerity measure taken last year by the General Assembly made a deep cut in potential travel costs. Until last year, five delegates from every U.N. member state were entitled to travel costs for sessions outside New York. But the General Assembly cut the allowance to one delegate only from the 40 least developed countries.