Chavez meets Abbas, calls for Palestinian state

Arab World Materials 13 October 2011 10:26 (UTC +04:00)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday welcomed his counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in the capital

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday welcomed his counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in the capital Maan reported

The leftist Chavez has long championed the Palestinian cause and has hosted Abbas on previous occasions.

Before meeting Abbas at the presidential palace in Caracas, Chavez reiterated his support for a Palestinian state.

Chavez said the Palestinians "have gone 63 years enduring abuses, invasions, bombardments, aggressions and UN resolutions" against them.

"I invite the entire Venezuelan people to support the cause of the Palestinian people," he said.

Chavez said he hoped to establish a joint Palestinian-Venezuelan committee headed by the foreign minister that would be responsible for agriculture and trade cooperation.

He also said Venezuela would fund the construction of an eye hospital to Ramallah.

Abbas, on a Latin American swing to drum up support for his bid that also took him to El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, later landed in Venezuela to meet with Chavez.

He left Colombia empty-handed Tuesday after failing to secure support from President Juan Manuel Santos for his bid to gain state recognition at the United Nations.

"We want the Palestinian state to exist. But this can only come as the result of a (UN) vote or resolution. It must be the product of negotiations (between Israelis and Palestinians) because this is the only way to achieve peace," Santos said after meeting Abbas in Bogota.

Abbas in turn said the PLO was "ready to return immediately to the negotiating table" after talks with the Israelis were suspended in September 2010 following a brief hiatus.

But he repeated a principal demand to resume the negotiations, calling for Israel to end settlement building.

Colombia is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, where Abbas needs at least nine votes out of 15 to obtain a favorable recommendation for his request to have a Palestinian state gain UN membership.

Abbas is due to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday in Paris to discuss the Palestinian bid for UN recognition. France is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.