Aso meets Abbas to show support for Palestinian peace efforts

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso held talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday in Jerusalem, and is expected to show support for Abbas' peace efforts, Japanese officials said.

Aso meets Abbas to show support for Palestinian peace efforts
The Western-backed government of Abbas seeks peace with the Israelis, but it has been in conflict with Islamic group Hamas. Hamas, branded as a terrorist organization by the United States, has refused to recognize Israel's right to exist.

Aso is also expected to tell Abbas that Japan will provide the Palestinians 2.4 billion yen worth of aid, the officials said.

After his meeting with Abbas, Aso will attend a ministerial meeting with officials from Japan, Israel, the Palestinian autonomous region and Jordan to discuss a Japan-initiated plan to develop the West Bank to help the peace process in the Middle East, the officials said.

The Japan-proposed initiative, "Concept for Creating the Corridor for Peace and Prosperity," involves Israel, Japan, Jordan and the Palestinians, and calls for the construction of an agro-industrial park in the West Bank.

The ministers are likely to compile a set of measures such as constructing the agro-industrial park in the southern part of Jericho and convening a working-level meeting in October, according to the officials.

Japan hopes the plan will serve as a pilot project to boost the battered economy in the Palestinian territories that will then create an atmosphere conducive to advancing the Middle East peace process.

Tokyo is not a direct player in the group of Middle East peace brokers composed of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.

But using its economic clout and close ties with the Middle Eastern countries, Japan is keen to play a key role in helping to build mutual trust in the region and bringing peace to the Palestinian territories.

Aso is visiting the Middle East as part of a two-week trip to Jordan, Israel, the Palestine autonomous region, Mexico and Brazil from Sunday through Aug. 24.

AP - Kyodo
Last Mod: 15 Ağustos 2007, 14:38
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