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Japan to offer direct aid to Palestinian president

Japan has agreed to offer direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, but will send it to president Mahmud Abbas and not Hamas militants, an official said on Tuesday.

world Updated: Jun 12, 2007 17:55 IST

Japan has agreed to offer direct aid to the Palestinian Authority, but will send it to president Mahmud Abbas and not Hamas militants, an official said on Tuesday.

The agreement was made in a meeting with Palestinian foreign minister Ziad Abu Amr, who is on the start of a worldwide tour to drum up support for the embattled Palestinian Authority

.Foreign Minister Taro Aso in his meeting "will offer fresh direct aid to the president's office, which has been continuing but at very small levels," said an official at the foreign ministry's Middle East division.

"Japan has been avoiding direct aid to the Palestinian government as it has Hamas cabinet members, in line with the stances of the United States and the European Union," he said on customary condition of anonymity.

International donors stopped aid to the Palestinian Authority last year when the Islamic militant movement Hamas won elections and took office. President Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party formed a coalition with Hamas in March this year.

The United States has also assisted Abbas, with Washington funding training for security forces loyal to the president.

Norway is the only Western country to offer direct aid that goes through the office of Prime Minister Ismail Haniya, a member of Hamas.

The United States and the European Union have demanded that Hamas, known for its trademark suicide bombings, first recognise Israel, renounce violence and agree to abide by past peace deals.

Japan is a major donor to the Middle East peace process and has tried to portray itself as a neutral party in the conflict.