Ban urges support for Palestinian unity under Abbas

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DOHA: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged Arab states to support a Palestinian reconciliation under president Mahmud Abbas, and to help in achieving a durable ceasefire in Gaza.

I remain gravely concerned about Gaza, and about where we stand in the search for an independent Palestinian state, Ban said addressing Arab leaders at the opening of their summit in Doha.

The way forward is a durable ceasefire, open crossings, and Palestinian reconciliation under president Abbas. Efforts to achieve this need your united support, he said.

Arab powerhouses Egypt and Saudi Arabia are staunch supporters of the Western-backed Abbas while Syria and Qatar back the Islamist movement Hamas, which routed Abbas Fatah loyalists from Gaza in deadly factional fighting in June 2007.

Cairo and Riyadh began mending fences with Damascus, holding reconciliatory meetings in March and January, but Egypt s leader Hosni Mubarak dimmed hopes of accelerating reconciliation by snubbing the Doha summit.

Mubarak is believed to view Doha as having taken an anti-Cairo stand during Israel s deadly 22-day onslaught on the Hamas rulers of Gaza in December and January. -AFP

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