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Abbas Accepts Invitation to Visit Iran -Palestinians (REUTERS) RAMALLAH 02/02/05 04:41 AM ET)Source: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=7509944 Reuters News Service Reuters News Service Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - New Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accepted an invitation to pay an official visit to Iran, a senior Palestinian official said on Wednesday.

Israel has welcomed Abbas´s bid to end violence and talk peace with it but accuses arch-enemy Iran of trying to scuttle moves to Middle East peace by continuing to back Palestinian militant factions. "Abu Mazen has received an invitation to visit Iran. He has accepted the invitation and will decide on the date after he returns home," the Palestinian official said, using Abbas´s nickname. Iran is formally sworn to destroying the Jewish state and over the past decade has avoided official contact with leaders of the Palestinian Authority because it was created under interim peace deals with Israel.

Abbas was elected on Jan. 9 as Yasser Arafat´s successor on a platform of shelving a bloody four-year-old uprising by militant factions in favor of negotiating for statehood in the Israeli- occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

He has since coaxed an informal cease-fire from militants, ushering in relative calm in the region, and is expected to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon later this month for the first summit between the sides in years. (© Reuters 2005 02/02/05)

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