Abbas to visit Iran for international conference (AP) Associated Press) By JAMAL HALABY AMMAN 07/08/12 11:20 am ET)
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AMMAN, Jordan – The Palestinian president has accepted an invitation
to visit Iran, a patron of his political rival, the Islamic militant
Hamas, a top Palestinian official said Sunday.
In Tehran, Mahmoud Abbas will attend a conference of the Non-Aligned
Movement at the end of August, said his foreign minister, Riad Malki.
The trip "reflects our appreciation of this movement, which always
supported the Palestinian position and the Palestinian cause," Malki
said. "We cannot be absent from the summit of the non-aligned
Malki´s comments suggested that Abbas´ planned visit to Iran is not
signaling a thaw in relations.
In the past, Abbas has spoken out against Iran´s backing for Hamas,
which seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, leaving him with only
the West Bank. Israel has charged that Iran sends weapons and cash to
Iran and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority that Abbas leads do
not have close relations, as Hamas poses a threat to his rule in the
West Bank. There have been no diplomatic moves to indicate that
relations have improved.
Abbas relayed his acceptance of the Iranian invitation in a meeting
with Iran´s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian in
Jordan on Sunday.
Abdollahian said Tehran wants the two rival Palestinian factions to
reconcile to bolster "Palestinian steadfastness and reach common
ground on resistance in the face of threats by the Zionist entity."
He added, "We also support Hamas."
Abdollahian said another invitation was given to Jordan´s King
Abdullah II through his prime minister.
Malki said foreign ministers from a number of Non-Aligned Movement
members are expected in Ramallah at the end of July or beginning of
August to work on a "Declaration of Palestine" to be adopted at the
summit in Tehran. The declaration would sum up the Non-Aligned
Movement´s support for Palestinian political demands, including
recognition of a state of Palestine in the West Bank, Gaza and east
Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.
Malki said that among those expected to attend are foreign ministers
from countries that don´t have diplomatic ties with Israel, such as
Indonesia, Algeria, Cuba, Malaysia and Bangladesh.
The Palestinian Authority is trying to arrange for Jordanian
helicopter transports for those foreign ministers so they could avoid
Israeli border crossings, Malki said. Israel controls all passage in
and out of the West Bank.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said such visits
would have to be coordinated with Israel, but he did not elaborate.
___Associated Press writer Karin Laub in the West Bank contributed to
this report.(© 2012 The Associated Press 07/08/12)
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