Japan's foreign minister pledges support for Abbas

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso on Tuesday pledged his country's support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, a day after Japan said it would resume direct aid to the PA government. Japan has avoided providing direct financial assistance to the Palestinians since the Islamic group Hamas won an election and came to power in March, 2006. Abbas expelled Hamas from the government two months ago, after the group's militants took over Gaza by force, and formed a new government of moderates that has won broad international backing. Speaking alongside Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Aso said Japan would "support President Abbas in a visible manner." On Wednesday, Livni and Aso will participate in a four-way meeting in the West Bank town of Jericho with their Jordanian and Palestinian counterparts.