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Abbas: Siege on Palestinians to Be Gradually Lifted
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Visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday expressed optimism that the political and financial siege on the Palestinians would be gradually lifted.

Abbas made the statement at a press conference in Cairo after his meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the latest developments in the violence-stricken Gaza Strip, during which he said he discussed with the Egyptian leader the outcome of his recent European tour.

Abbas, who arrived in Cairo on Friday after a seven-nation European tour to persuade Europe to resume aid and dealings with the new Palestinian government grouping Hamas and Fatah movements, said that it is possible that the international siege on the Palestinian people would be gradually lifted.

Direct financial aid to the Palestinian Authority was frozen after Hamas who refused the international demands single-handedly took office last year.

But after the inauguration of the current unity government, Abbas has argued the cutoff should be lifted as the new government absorbed the more moderate Fatah party as well.

On the issue to restore security control and halt Israeli aggressions to revive peace process in the Middle East, Abbas said the only way to stop this aggression is to return calmness to Gaza first and then in the West Bank.

He noted that this was what had been agreed upon but unfortunately violated by both sides of Israel and the Palestinians.

Abbas met with the exiled head of Hamas' political bureau Khaled Meshaal on Friday night, the first of its kind since the inauguration of the new government, to probe means of stabilizing the truce and lifting siege imposed on the Palestinians by the West along with other issues.

(Xinhua News Agency April 29, 2007)

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