Kuwait to welcome Mahmud Abbas

Kuwait's prime minister is to welcome a visit by Mahmud Abbas, the first official trip by a top Palestinian official to the Gulf state since the 1990-91 Gulf war.

    Abbas's planned trip to Kuwait one year ago was postponed

    "We welcome the visit by our brother Abu Mazin (Mahmud Abbas)," Prime Minister Shaikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said on the sidelines of a function in Kuwait City on Saturday.

    State news agency Kuna said Abbas was due in Kuwait on Sunday, heading a senior Palestinian delegation.

    Late Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat was widely hated in Kuwait for refusing to condemn Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of the Gulf Arab state. Kuwait severed ties with his Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and cut its financial backing.

    The speaker of Kuwait's outspoken parliament - where many of the 50 lawmakers had demanded a public apology from Arafat - sounded more guarded over Abbas's visit.

    Reserved comments

    "Abu Mazin is mostly a guest of the government, not the National Assembly (parliament)," Parliament Speaker Jasim al-Kharafi said.

    Shaikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah
    (R) has welcomed Abbas's visit

    "We must hear from Abu Mazin a clear and frank point of view about the past position of the Palestinian Authority, and then based on that we will act," he added. 

    Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al-Watan, quoting Kuwait official sources, said on Saturday any top Palestinian official visiting Kuwait should express clear condemnation of the 1990 Iraqi
    invasion.

    After a US-led war drove Iraqi troops out in 1991, Kuwait also took revenge by kicking out some 400,000 Palestinians, although a few thousand stayed or have since returned.

    Last year, Kuwait put off a planned visit by Abbas. Palestinian officials denied reports that this was because he would not apologise for Arafat's support for the 1990 invasion, saying it was because of complications with schedules.

    Abbas visited Kuwait earlier this year in an unofficial capacity as a guest of a conference.

    Asked if Kuwait would seek an official apology from Abbas during his visit, Shaikh Sabah said: "We are not looking for apologies, this issue is over. On the contrary, we welcome the visit."

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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