GENEVA  - A Swiss laboratory asked by the Palestinian authorities to probe the death of former leader Yasser Arafat said Thursday “contact has been established” and looked forward to more developments within days.

“We have been asked by the Palestinian National Authority and we are in the process considering the best way to respond,” Lausanne University Hospital spokesman Darcy Christen told AFP.

“Contact has been established ... we are hopeful of (having) something new at the beginning of next week.

“Our main concern is to guarantee the independence, credibility and transparency of any involvement by us,” he added. A former Palestinian intelligence officer who headed an investigation into Arafat’s death in 2004 said in Ramallah on Wednesday that Lausanne’s Institute of Radiophysics could have the independence it sought.

“We are ready to give them any guarantees they want,” said Tawfiq Tirawi.

Arafat’s widow Suha had agreed to the exhumation of part of his remains for an examination,” Tirawi said, while the Palestinian committee investigating Arafat’s death was “preparing to counter any possible Israeli intervention” which would hinder the exhumation.

Allegations that the veteran Palestinian leader died of radioactive polonium poisoning resurfaced in July after Al-Jazeera news channel said the Lausanne institute had uncovered “an abnormal quantity” of the substance” in Arafat’s effects which were returned to his wife after his death in a hospital near Paris in November 2004.

Following that report Arafat’s widow and his daughter Zawra launched a civil suit for murder in France.

Polonium is a highly toxic substance which is rarely found outside military and scientific circles, and was used to kill former Russian spy turned Kremlin critic Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 shortly after drinking tea laced with the poison.