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Palestinian FM: Abbas Visit to Washington is an Opportunity to Influence the New Administration | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Al-Maliki (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

Paris – Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riad al-Maliki said that the upcoming visit of President Mahmoud Abbas to Washington next month was an “opportunity” to influence the new US Administration.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper on the sidelines of his visit to Paris, Maliki said that the Palestinian Authority was betting on the distinctiveness of President Donald Trump’s personality, “which could push him to go against the opinion of his personal advisors.”

“We don’t have the illusion that we can overturn the current orientation, but this visit would change Trump’s established ideas,” the Palestinian foreign minister said.

“We believe that this visit will provide an opportunity for President Abbas to present the truths as they are to the US president,” he added.

Maliki explained that Trump was “different from his predecessors, in terms of thinking and vision, and can make a decision regarding an issue, regardless of the opinion of his advisors.”

He noted that a Palestinian delegation that includes Senior Negotiator Saeb Erekat, the head of Intelligence Majed Faraj, and the head of the Investment Fund Mohammed Mustafa, would arrive to Washington on Sunday to prepare the political, security and economic issues, which would be discussed during the summit between Trump and Abbas.

The Palestinian minister met with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault in Paris last week.

He noted that Ayrault reaffirmed France’s adherence to the two-state solution and commitment to promoting peace, and to the implementation of UNSCR 2234.

Maliki said that the current French leadership believed that recognizing the Palestinian State was very difficult at the present moment, despite the Palestinian Authority’s insistence on the matter.

He said that France expressed concern at the uninterrupted continuation of Israeli settlement activity and reaffirmed the importance of combating all forms of violence.

On the expected meeting between Trump and Abbas, Maliki said the summit is scheduled for May 3rd.

He added that the Palestinian Authority was looking forward to receiving Trump’s promise of his commitment to the two-state solution, the elimination of the plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, and a clear stance against illegal settlements.

He also said that Abbas hoped that the US president would support Palestinians’ right to benefit from all available resources to boost their economy and growth.

“We must deploy all efforts because we believe that we have an opportunity – we should grab the opportunity of the two presidents’ meeting; this is very important to us,” the foreign minister stated.

Asked about the outcome of visits conducted by US officials to Palestine since the arrival of the new US Administration, Maliki said: “They came to listen to us and we believe that they were only go-and-see visits.”

He added that while there has been some improvement in the way the US is dealing with the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian officials were waiting for concrete results following Abbas’ visit to Washington.