MaltaToday | 16 July 2008 | President calls for Palestinian state

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NEWS | Wednesday, 16 July 2008

President calls for Palestinian state

Raphael Vassallo

The President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, was welcomed yesterday to the Grandmasters’ Palace in Valletta by President Edward Fenech Adami, for the start of a two-day official visit to Malta.
Emerging from a brief private colloquy with the Palestinian president, Dr Fenech Adami reiterated Malta’s longstanding friendship and solidarity with the Palestinian people, and pledged the country’s continued support for the nation’s quest for statehood.
“Peace can only be achieved in the region when the Palestinian people enjoy their full rights, which are recognised by the international community,” Fenech Adami said, in an allusion to Malta’s official support for a two-state solution to the Middle East question.
Fenech Adami reminded Abbas that Malta’s commitment to the cause of the Palestinian people was not a new phenomenon, but one that spanned several decades.
“In 1975, Malta became the United Nations rapporteur on the rights of the Palestinian people,” he pointed out, adding that relations between the two nations had always been warm.
He also expressed his confidence that the initiative for a Mediterranean Union, which got under way in Paris over the weekend, was a step in the right direction for a peaceful resolution of the region’s troubles.
On his part, the Palestinian president expressed his gratitude to the Maltese people for their continued solidarity, and congratulated the president on the forthcoming opening of Malta’s diplomatic mission in Ramallah.
“I am honoured to be in Malta, which I consider to be a friend of the Palestinian people,” he said. “This is my first visit, and I hope it will not be my last.”
Abbas acknowledged the work undertaken by Malta since its appointment as UN rapporteur, adding that Malta has also been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause in important international fora such as the European Union.
Mahmoud Abbas had arrived an hour earlier at the Malta International Airport, where he was greeted by deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Tonio Borg.
As expected, the president of the Palestinian National Authority came accompanied by a tight retinue of security officials. Tensions were high both at the airport and around Valletta on account of the unruly demonstrations by the public transport sector, but there were no incidents before or after Abbas’ courtesy visit to Dr Fenech Adami.
Nonetheless, during the exchange of gifts between the two Presidents, an awkward moment arose when one of the television cameramen accidentally tripped up on a cable, and fell to the floor with a clatter.
No one was injured in the incident, although Abbas’ minders were briefly but visibly startled.

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