Palestinians inaugurate new mausoleum for Arafat

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RAMALLAH, West Bank, Nov 10 (Reuters) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today inaugurated a mausoleum built over Yasser Arafat's grave and vowed to press on with the late leader's aim of seeking statehood.

At the ceremony Abbas said he hoped Arafat's wish to be buried in Jerusalem could still be fulfilled along with his dream of making the disputed city the capital of a future Palestinian state.

''We will continue on the path to set up the independent Palestinian state with (Jerusalem) as its capital, God willing,'' Abbas said.

Arafat, founder of the Fatah movement in the 1960s, signed a peace deal with Israel in 1993, but the agreement broke down and led to a violent uprising in 2000.

Arafat's white stone grave lies inside the mausoleum close to his offices in Ramallah which Israel besieged for over two years until Arafat was flown to France for medical treatment close to his death on November 11, 2004, aged 75.

Dignitaries and diplomats attended the inauguration as an honour guard stood to attention during the hour-long ceremony at the white stone building, which has a 20-metre (65-ft) tower.

Palestinians hope some kind of agreement on a future Palestinian state can be reached with Israel at a US-backed Middle East peace conference expected to be held before the end of the year.

REUTERS SZ HS1857

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