AFP - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas arrived on Sunday in Grozny, the capital of Russia's troubled republic of Chechnya, a Chechen presidential spokesman said.
"Allah be praised for the opportunity to come here. I am glad to make this visit and am only sorry that it turns out to be so short," Abbas told reporters in the airport where he was met by Chechnya's President Ramzan Kadyrov.
Abbas also hailed the situation in Chechnya, which "has greatly improved and continues to improve."
"There are things that unite us (Palestinians) with the Chechens, and I am watching what is happening in the republic," he added.
Kadyrov in his turn thanked Abbas, whom he welcomed as "a true Muslim and a good man," and voiced certainty that "knowing the situation in (the Palestinian territories) and in Chechnya, we will find common language."
The Palestinian leader, who had been due to arrive late Friday but was delayed, was due to take a tour of Grozny Sunday before holding talks with Kadyrov.
Abbas, who arrived in the early hours of Sunday, was on the first leg of a three-day visit to Russia that will include a meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev. He was due to arrive in Moscow later Sunday.
Abbas travelled to Washington for talks on Thursday and Friday aimed at keeping Middle East peace efforts on track.
Russia, a member of the diplomatic quartet for Middle East peace that also includes the European Union, United Nations and United States, has pursued close ties with the Palestinians, including Hamas, the Islamist rival to the Fatah party of Abbas.
Chechen separatists fought two wars against Russia in the 1990s but a pro-Kremlin government now rules the republic.