ArafatThe Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) denied today that it has extended an invitation to Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat to visit the United States.

A spokesperson for the SCLC’s Atlanta office told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by telephone that “We have no knowledge of anyone extending an invitation or any one accepting an invitation.”

The question was prompted by a report in the Saudi Arabian English-language daily, Saudi Arabian Daily News, quoting Arafat as saying he had been invited to the U.S. by the SCLC in Atlanta and would accept the invitation from the American civil rights group. According to the report from Jeddah, Arafat said he wanted to speak to the American people about peace in the Middle East.

He did not say how he would obtain a visa. Arafat visited New York in 1974 to address the UN General Assembly for which he did not require an American visa. He was restricted to an area in the general vicinity of UN headquarters.