Abbas accepts invitation from Ahmadinejad to visit Tehran

Palestinian Foreign Minister says trip not a sign of thawing relations between PA and Iran

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit:Uri Lenz/Flash90)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas (photo credit:Uri Lenz/Flash90)

PA President Mahmoud Abbas announced Sunday he will attend a conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran next month.

The Non-Aligned Movement consists of a large group of states considering themselves not formally aligned with or against any major international power bloc. The group typically takes positions critical of US foreign policy.

Abbas received the invitation from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a meeting with Iranian Vice Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Amman on Sunday.

The visit will be Abbas’s first trip to Iran. While Tehran officially supports Ramallah, the Islamic Republic has historically shared closer ties with rival Hamas as opposed to Abbas’s secularist Fatah party.

The trip “reflects our appreciation of this movement, which always supported the Palestinian position and the Palestinian cause,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said. “We cannot be absent from the summit of the non-aligned countries.”

Malki’s comments suggested that Abbas’ planned visit to Iran is not signaling a thaw in relations.

In the past, Abbas has spoken out repeatedly against Iran’s support for Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Relations between Israel and Iran are at a nadir, with both countries standing off over Tehran’s nuclear program.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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