Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas arrives in Venezuela


Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas arrived in Venezuela on Thursday to seek backing from Caracas for observer status in three Latin American regional organizations.

During his stay, which ends Saturday, Abbas will meet with President Nicolas Maduro, whose socialist government has faced months of at times bloody protests.

He arrived around 0230 GMT at Maiquetia airport for his third visit to the oil-producing country in five years.

Maduro has called the unrest, which has claimed at least 42 lives since February, a United States-backed coup attempt.

Abbas heads to Caracas after meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry in London on Wednesday, a first since the peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis collapsed.

In their talks, Abbas and Maduro will exchange views on the peace process, as well as Palestinian relations with Latin America, according to Palestinian envoy Linda Sobeh Ali.

Abbas will also seek support for the Palestinian Authority’s quest to be granted observer status in the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

In the face of fierce Israeli opposition, the Palestinians won observer status at the United Nations in November 2012, opening the way for it to adopt a host of international accords.

Abbas will also be visiting the grave of Maduro’s predecessor, longtime leader Hugo Chavez who died of cancer last year, according to Sobeh Ali.


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