Palestinians fan out to raise funds

The Palestinian president has arrived in Turkey and the foreign minister in Kuwait on fund-raising tours.

    Mahmud al-Zahar is in Kuwait on a fund-raising tour

    Mahmoud Abbas was on Sunday on the first leg of a European tour, which will include Norway, Finland and France, to discuss stalled talks for Middle East peace and aid to his cash-strapped people.

    Abbas will meet Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, and Abdullah Gul, the foreign minister, on Tuesday.

    Abbas is hoping his tour will convince donor countries to resume sending aid to the Palestinian people to overcome a long-standing financial crisis.

    On arrival, Abbas said: "We will tell our Turkish brothers what is happening in the Palestinian territories.

    "We will talk about political problems and the difficult economic conditions there. We will talk about what Turkey can do."

    The crisis has been aggravated since the European Union and the US suspended direct aid after the new Palestinian government, led by Hamas, was sworn in last month.

    During his two-day stay, Abbas will discuss Ankara's contribution to peace in the Middle East.

    Turkey has close relations with both Israel and the Palestinians and has often offered to mediate in their conflict.

    Kuwait

    Meanwhile, Mahmud al-Zahar arrived in Kuwait on Sunday on a two-day visit as part of a regional tour to urge Arab countries to speed up their transfer of aid to the Palestinians.

    Al-Zahar said he was hopeful he would raise the needed funds during the tour, adding that the Palestinian government needed $140 million monthly.

    "We have received $50 million and $20 million had been received by the Arab League, while $20 million more were on the way," al-Zahar said. He did not elaborate on his statement.

    Al-Zahar held talks with Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah, the emir, and his Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Mohammad Al Sabah who pledged that the emirate would "provide its share of aid under Arab summit decision".

    At its last summit in Khartoum at the end of March, the Arab League agreed to allocate $55 million a month to the Palestinian Authority. Kuwait's share amounts to about $7.5 million monthly.

    Zahar said that with $55 million monthly from Arab states and $60 million in tax revenues the Palestinian government would be able to overcome the current cash crisis.

    Saudi Arabia has pledged $92 million, while Qatar and Iran each agreed to contribute $50 million.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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