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Palestinian Government to Receive Additional Aid from Japan


Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is on his way to China after a three-day visit to Japan, where he picked up a pledge of an additional $100 million in aid from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. Before departing the Japanese capital, Mr. Abbas told reporters he will ask for direct U.S. economic assistance when he meets President Bush later this month.

Japan's Foreign Ministry says the country soon plans to resume direct assistance to the Palestinian Authority for the first time in five years. That announcement comes a day after Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi pledged a fresh aid package totaling $100 million during his meeting with visiting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Mr. Abbas said during his upcoming visit to Washington he will ask the United States to contribute aid directly to the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Abbas says his government is now capable of administering funds itself and that will help promote transparency.

Until now, the United States and many other countries have funneled aid through non-government organizations and other third parties. When Mr. Abbas' predecessor, the late Yasser Arafat, was in charge, there were serious concerns among donors about massive corruption in the Palestinian administration.

Mr. Abbas on Tuesday also urged Israel to do more to achieve Middle East peace. He said if Israel takes no steps beyond withdrawing from the Gaza Strip then the conflict will again worsen. The Palestinians want Israel to implement other obligations under the road map peace plan, including a total freeze on settlement activity and the immediate dismantling of unauthorized Jewish outposts in the West Bank.

Israel accuses the Palestinians of failing to meet their initial road map obligations, including a crackdown on militants.

During his three days in China, Mr. Abbas is expected to call for Beijing to take a larger role in the Middle East peace process.

China has long been supportive of the Palestinian cause but has recently increased defense technology ties with Israel.

The Palestinian leader heads to Washington next week for his first visit there since he was elected in January.

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