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Arafat 'an outlaw to the peace process,' Kerry says

TAMPA, Fla. -- Democratic presidential candidate Senator John F. Kerry said he no longer considers Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to be a statesman but rather "an outlaw to the peace process" in the Middle East who has been rightly shuffled aside.

In a 1997 book, Kerry described "Arafat's transformation from outlaw to statesman." But in an interview with the Associated Press, he said he no longer views Arafat favorably.

"Obviously, Yasser Arafat has been an impediment to the peace process," said Kerry, the presumptive Democratic nominee. "He missed a historic opportunity, and he's proved himself to be irrelevant."

Kerry said Arafat "blew his opportunity" to be effective in 1999 and 2000.

"He was [a statesman] in 1995," Kerry said, recalling White House meetings between Israeli and Palestinian leaders in search of peace in the Middle East. "As far as I'm concerned, he's an outlaw to the peace process."

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