Source AP ©

Palestinian President: embargo causing tragedy

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that a year of economic sanctions against Palestinian government has turned people’s lives into tragedy and hurt peace prospects in the Middle East and beyond.

"If the international community wants to help us, it must lift this embargo so that we can lead a normal life," Abbas said after talks Monday with Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

"Everyone recognizes that peace in the Middle East and a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can put out the fires at all the flash points in the world," Abbas said.

"We are requesting that the embargo be lifted. The Palestinian people have suffered in the past year because of this blockade. They are living through a tragedy - on a social, economic and political level."

Abbas' three-day visit to Greece, was part of a seven-nation tour of European Union countries. He also met Greek President Karolos Papoulias, and on Saturday met Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis.

Greece has traditionally close ties with the Palestinians and with Arab nations.

Direct financial aid to the Palestinian Authority was frozen after Islamic Hamas militants swept to power in January 2006 elections, but Abbas has argued the restrictions should be lifted because a new unity government includes members of his more moderate Fatah party.

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