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Iran calls for lifting of Gaza blockade

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in a meeting with Hamas political supremo Khaled Meshaal called for the lifting of Israel's crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip.

world Updated: Feb 01, 2009 19:24 IST

Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki in a meeting with Hamas political supremo Khaled Meshaal on Sunday called for the lifting of Israel's crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip.

"The Gaza blockade should be lifted and Gaza port and the crossings should be reopened for reconstruction," Mottaki told the Palestinian official in Tehran, state television reported on its website.

Mottaki said that it was the duty of other countries to help reconstruct Gaza and "exert efforts to offer help to the needy people through the legal government of Hamas."

He praised "the resistance of Gazans" which had "put out the fire of the Zionist regime," during the 22-day war in the impoverished Palestinian territory.

The Hamas leader arrived in Tehran on Sunday on his first visit since Israel's deadly offensive against his Islamist movement in the Gaza Strip.

Meshaal, who lives in exile in Syria, was to meet top Iranian officials, address students of Tehran University, and attend a session of parliament, the state news agency IRNA reported.

Meshaal is a frequent visitor to Iran, which is a staunch supporter of Hamas and does not recognise Israel.

Last month, Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has drawn global outrage for his anti-Israel tirades, congratulated Hamas on its "victory" in the war with Israel.

Israel's three-week onslaught against Hamas-ruled Gaza left more than 1,330 Palestinians dead. Thirteen Israelis were also killed during the conflict, which Israel launched to stop militant rocket fire from the territory.

In 2006, Tehran pledged millions of dollars in aid to the Hamas government. But the Islamic republic has always insisted its support for Palestinian militant groups does not extend to arming or training fighters.