Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas arrived in South Africa Thursday for a three-day visit including a meeting with President Thabo Mbeki and an address to parliament.
The Foreign Ministry said the trip was part of efforts to "promote the peaceful resolution of conflict" by continued dialogue with both the Israelis and Palestinians.
The government has also invited leaders of Hamas, which took power Wednesday. The Islamic group, which won parliamentary elections in January, has held firm to its refusal to recognize Israel and is widely shunned by Western donor governments. No date has been set for the Hamas visit.
He was due to meet representatives of South Africa's Muslim and Jewish communities and pay a courtesy visit on former President Nelson Mandela.