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Middle East

Abbas makes surprise visit to Baghdad

Latest update : 2009-04-05

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Iraq Sunday on the first visit by a Palestinian leader since the US-led invasion of 2003. He is due to meet with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

AFP - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas arrived in Iraq on Sunday on the first visit by a Palestinian leader since the US-led invasion of 2003, state television said.

Abbas was expected to hold talks with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on boosting ties.

It is Abbas's first official visit to the country and comes six years after US forces toppled dictator Saddam Hussein and as the war-torn nation attempts to rebuild itself and consolidate its fledgling democracy.

Abbas was lined up for a visit to Iraq late last month but the trip was called off without any official explanation.

Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader, was one of the few Arab leaders to have supported Saddam during his 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

Before the 2003 war, about 34,000 Palestinians lived in Iraq, where they enjoyed a privileged status under Saddam.

After Saddam's fall, however, the Palestinians found their fortunes turned upside down and became victims of numerous attacks, especially at the hands of Shiite militias.

The Palestinian leader is scheduled to visit Moscow next week for talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Date created : 2009-04-05