Palestinian president receives US delegation in Ramallah
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Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) – Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas hosted a US delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf on Saturday ahead of President Joe Biden’s scheduled visit.
Abbas reiterated his demands to remove the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from the US list of terrorist entities at the meeting, his office said.
The Palestinian president also called for the reopening of the PLO office in Washington and the US consulate in East Jerusalem, after they were closed under the Trump administration, the Palestinian presidency said in a statement.
Leaf, who began a three-day trip to the Palestinian territories and Israel on Saturday, met with Abbas “to discuss US-Palestinian relations, US aid to Palestinians, deepening ties + how Palestinians and Israelis deserve equal measures of freedom, security, and prosperity,” the State Department said.
Biden has pledged to reopen the consulate, closed under Donald Trump, whose administration has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, infuriating Palestinians who see its eastern sector as their future capital.
Israel opposes the Palestinian consulate in Jerusalem, saying the United States should open this diplomatic mission in Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.
Meanwhile, the United States in recent days changed the title of its Palestinian affairs unit to the Office of Palestinian Affairs (OPA), without defining it as a consulate.
The unit “operates under the auspices of the US Embassy in Jerusalem and reports substantive matters directly to” the State Department, an OPA spokesperson said, noting that the new structure aimed to “strengthen our diplomatic relations and our engagement in public diplomacy”.
The move precedes a possible Biden visit to the region. The US president said he was planning a trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Palestinian territories in July.
© 2022 AFP