(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sought support from key Muslim allies in Asia on Saturday to strengthen his position ahead of a US-hosted conference involving Israel and the Palestinians.
Abbas held talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whose country chairs the world's biggest Islamic political bloc, in his first stop on a tour that is also scheduled to include Indonesia and Brunei.
"We are looking right now for the best coordinating mechanism in order to achieve the best result for the conference," Abbas told reporters, noting Malaysia is invited to the gathering in November or December at Annapolis, Maryland.
The United States hopes the conference will relaunch negotiations to create a Palestinian state.
Abbas said he wants to "achieve a unified position about the conference" with allies such as Malaysia, adding his meeting with Abdullah focused on "a need to coordinate efforts between the two countries to achieve a peaceful and lasting and just resolution to the conflict."
US officials have tried to push Israel and the Palestinians into consensus on the substance of the conference's joint declaration, which would outline a way for the two sides to return to the negotiating table after seven years of bloodshed and diplomatic paralysis.
Abdullah, whose nation chairs the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, pledged backing for Abbas.
"Our commitment to support the struggle of the Palestinian people remains as strong as before," Abdullah said. "When we go (to the conference), we will go in full support for your cause."
Abdullah added Malaysia believes the enmity between Abbas's Western-backed Cabinet of moderates in the West Bank and the Hamas government in Gaza should be resolved by the Palestinians themselves without any outside interference.
"These are internal matters. They are problems that have cropped up between brothers," Abdullah said.
Hamas took control of Gaza by force in June, prompting Abbas to install his own Cabinet in the West Bank. The two bitter rivals have frequently tried to undermine each other, each claiming to be the legitimate government.