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2006-09-14,12:44 PM

Malaysia Urges U.S., Israel To Recognise Palestinian Unity Govt

From Mokhtar Hussein

HAVANA, Sept 14 (Bernama) -- Malaysia is of the view that efforts to set up a Palestinian national unity government should be supported and recognised by the United States and the Israeli regime.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the recognition towards power sharing between Fatah and Hamas was crucial because it could bring about stability in the Middle East.

"We (Malaysia) hope (the United States of) America will be able to cooperate in recognising the government even though Hamas will be part of it.

"This is a government that is truly the Palestinian unity government which represents all the Palestinian people," he told Malaysian journalists covering the G15 (Group of 15 developing nations) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit here.

Abdullah said this after making a courtesy call on Cuban Acting President and the country's first Vice President Raul Castro, younger brother of President Fidel Castro who is resting after undergoing treatment.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was reported to have reached an agreement with Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas to share power by setting up a unity government aimed at ending the international aid embargo.

The United States and its allies have boycotted the Hamas-led Palestinian government because it refuses to recognise Israel. They also demand Hamas to end violence.

So far, the European Union has shown a positive attitude to support the coalition government while the United States and Britain continue to press Palestine to recognise Israel.

"I'd like to welcome and encourage the Palestinian leaders' effort to create a national unity government in Palestine. It will actually stabilise Palestinian politics and with it, a leadership lineup representing all parties can emerge," said Abdullah who is also the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) chairman.

He said the support and recognition of all parties would give strength to the Palestinian government.

On the meeting with Raul at the International Conference Centre, the prime minister said the acting Cuban president had informed him that President Castro was recovering after undergoing treatment but the doctor had advised him to continue to rest.

Abdullah said the question whether he would be able to visit Castro was up to the Cuban government and the condition of the longest serving state leader.

Early this week, Cuban newspapers carried pictures of Fidel Castro on the front page and quoted him as saying that he was ready to meet national guests.

However, there are no signs so far whether the 80-year-old leader would appear alongside heads of delegation during the NAM conference.

The prime minister said that during the meeting, Raul had expressed Cuban's hope that initiatives started by Malaysia would be continued.

Present at the meeting were Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin.

On the Cuban side were Information Minister Ramiro Valdes Menendez; Foreign Minister Filipe Perez Roque; and Ambassador to Malaysia Pedro Monzon Barata.

Abdullah, who is NAM chairman, also said Malaysia would continue to be active in playing its role especially as the movement's troika member together with the new chair, Cuba, and next chair, Egypt.

Malaysia will officially hand over the NAM chairmanship to Cuba at the movement's summit here.

He said, each task that had been distributed must be carried out by the countries responsible, and Malaysia had completed its job.

For NAM, he said, Malaysia should be proud because it had been successful in its effort to revive the movement and implementing its plans.

Abdullah will attend the NAM summit here tomorrow.

On the G15 summit today, Abdullah said Malaysia would press for a review of its role with a view to strengthening it.

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