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Exiled Palestinians Land in Cyprus

Aired May 10, 2002 - 06:07   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Those 13 Palestinian militants, who were deported from Israel, their plane landed in Cyprus just a short time ago. One the phone with us right now, journalist Antree Carassava. She is at the airport on the tarmac right now -- good morning. What can you tell us there?

ANTREE CARASSAVA, JOURNALIST: Well, Carol, the British military transport plane has just landed, in fact, at Larnaca International here. Security is extremely tight.

The 13 Palestinian militants have all just embarked. They boarded a white coach, a white bus, and they signaled, in fact, victory signs, and were whisked off to -- are now being taken to an undisclosed location. We presume it is a hotel, where they will stay until host states will accept them as refugees.

This Royal Air Force plane left from a British military base here in Cyprus earlier today to pick up the Palestinians from Israel and to ferry them here, where they will stay until the European Union decides how many of its member states will, in fact, take in these Palestinians.

The foreign ministry officials here tell us that while the Palestinians are here, they will be staying at a remote hotel in Larnaca, and they will be heavily guarded by special forces, and they will stay put there until the foreign ministry here receives Britain agreements from interested host nations.

Now, we understand that at least three European Union member states, Greece, Italy and Spain, have expressed interest in taking in these Palestinians, but we don't know how many more states will follow suit and under what conditions they will agree to play host to the militants, which Israel ranked among their most wanted terrorists -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Can you tell us once they do get to the host countries, whatever those countries might be, what will their lives be like?

CARASSAVA: Well, that remains, of course, to be seen, because it will depend on the status that they will carry. It depends on Monday, when the foreign ministers of the European Union meeting in Luxembourg to iron out the details of how these militants will be received in these host nations. Will they be received as refugees? Will they be granted refugee status? Or will they be confined as criminals and face trials?

So there are a lot of details that remain to be ironed out, and of course, the earlier that we can expect some of these Palestinians to be moving out and going to these host nations is Monday. But it seemed that they were very happy, because they were signaling victory signs.

COSTELLO: All right. Thank you very much -- Antree Carassava reporting live for us by phone from Cyprus, where those hardcore militants from inside the Church of the Nativity were shipped to, and so they can find some country that will accept them.

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