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France says will give direct aid to Palestinians

Written by: Staff

PARIS, June 21 (Reuters) France will give direct financial aid to the Palestinian government headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, the foreign ministry said today.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner spoke to Abbas this week to express French support and inform him of the French aid plans, a spokesman said.

''The minister has confirmed that France would provide direct budgetary aide on a national level,'' the French ministry spokesman told an online news briefing, without giving details of the amount France would provide.

The European Union said this week it would resume direct aid to the Palestinians as part of efforts to support Abbas's emergency cabinet.

Islamist group Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip after routing Fatah forces loyal to Abbas last week, prompting him to replace the Hamas-led Palestinian unity government with an emergency cabinet.

Western powers imposed the aid embargo because Hamas, which won a parliamentary election in January 2006, failed to recognise Israel, renounce violence and accept interim peace deals.

The French ministry said Kouchner also told Abbas he had held talks with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni this week to encourage her to restore tax revenues owed to the Palestinians.

''The minister expressed concern about the humanitarian situation and looked with President Abbas at means of getting aid to residents of Gaza through the mediation of international organisations,'' the spokesman said.

Reuters DS DB2050

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