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Abbas says Russia to join in Arafat's death investigation


08:44, November 12, 2012

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pays his respects at the grave of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, prior to the official ceremony marking the 8th anniversary of Arafat's death, in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Nov. 11, 2012. (Xinhua/POOL/Fadi Arouri)

RAMALLAH, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday revealed that Russia will take part in investigating the death of his predecessor Yasser Arafat alongside France and Switzerland.

"There is a complete coordination between us and the French and also experts from the Russian government to exhume Arafat's body," Abbas said during a festival in the West Bank city of Ramallah marking the eighth anniversary of Arafat's death.

Arafat died at a French hospital from an undisclosed or unknown reason. In July, a report by the pan-Arab news network al-Jazeera said that a Swiss lab tested Arafat's personal belongings and found significant traces of radioactive polonium-210 on his clothes and toothbrush.

Swiss and French experts are scheduled to exhume Arafat's body on Nov. 27.

"We deal seriously and with full responsibility with anything new emerging in this sensitive and important case," Abbas said, adding that all ensuing results will be released to the public.

Abdullah al-Basheer, the head of a Palestinian committee that oversees Arafat's death investigation, said that Russia has agreed to join the investigation according to an official request by the Palestinian National Authority.

Al-Basheer said the Russian government will send two doctors to take part in the examination and to take samples from Arafat's body, and that the Russians will work with the French and Swiss " to make sure that the results of the investigations are in the right context."

He noted that opening Arafat's grave would take a month "since it was built in a special way."

Fayed Mustafa, the Palestinian ambassador to Russia, said it is still unclear when the Russian experts will arrive in the Palestinian territories. Also, a source in the Russian embassy in the West Bank said there was no information available yet about the participation of Russia in the investigation.
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