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Malaysia offers aid to Palestinians to ease crisis

Written by: Staff
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KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 (Reuters) Mainly Muslim Malaysia today offered aid to the Palestinian Authority to help it overcome a financial crisis and urged Washington to recognise the Hamas-led regime.

International donors including the European Union and the United States have suspended aid to the Palestinian Authority because of the Hamas-led government's failure to renounce violence and recognise Israel since coming to power in March.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in comments carried by news agency Bernama, did not say how much the government would give but said the amount would be within its means.

''The Palestinians need assistance from other countries,'' he said. ''The people are suffering and they should not be punished for their choice of government.'' Oil-rich Malaysia currently chairs the 57-member Organisation of the Islamic Conference, a club of Islamic nations that include oil giants Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Iran.

The Bush administration advocates a tough policy against Hamas, an Islamic militant group that wants Israel's destruction and regarded as a terrorist organisation by the United States, EU and Israel.

All have severed ties with the Palestinian government, cutting off hundreds of millions of dollars in aid.

The EU, the Palestinians' largest donor, has been charged with coming up with a way of restarting aid for the most urgent needs while bypassing Hamas officials. But the EU has acknowledged it could take weeks to get a new aid mechanism working.

REUTERS PR RN1724

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