Abbas Declined Invitation by Ahmadinejad for Formal Visit to Tehran

Iranian president suggested that reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas be held in Tehran; Abbas said he would consider such a visit in the future.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declined an invitation to pay a formal visit to Tehran, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki revealed on Saturday.

Speaking to Palestinian media, al-Maliki said that Abbas was invited to visit Iran by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. While Abbas declined the invitation, he said he would consider such a visit in the future.

Al-Maliki also noted that Ahmadinejad did not invite Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to take part in the Non-Aligned Movement's summit in Tehran last week.

The Hamas government spokesman announced last week that Ahmadinejad had invited Haniyeh to attend the Non-Aligned Movement summit. It was reported that Haniyeh intended to go, however Palestinian officials close to Abbas said that if Haniyeh goes to Tehran, the Palestinian president will boycott the summit..

While Iranian Foreign Ministry said Haniyeh was invited as a "special guest," Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad called on Haniyeh not to attend the summit, saying that the fact that he was invited reinforces the rift between Gaza's Hamas and Abbas' Fattah movement.

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat also said that Abbas had declined an invitation by Ahmadinejad to host reconciliation talks between Fatah and Hamas in Tehran.

Speaking to Iranian TV, Erekat said that statements made in the past by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei about a future Palestinian state were unrealistic, explaining that the Palestinian Authority seeks a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.