Abbas, Tunisian president hold joint meeting

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held a joint meeting Wednesday with Fatah officials and the president of Tunisia, putting the emphasis on the need to restore order within the Palestinian ranks. Tunisian leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, meanwhile, promised to do all he could to help end the political, economic and financial "blockade" on the Palestinians, Palestinian officials said after the talks. The "daily suffering endured daily by the Palestinian population," which Abbas judged "very critical," was high on the agenda. The cutoff of Western aid and Israeli tax transfers to Palestinians since the militant Islamic Hamas movement took over the Palestinian government has squeezed leaders and the population. Besides Abbas and Ben Ali, Fatah chief Farouk Kaddoumi and Tunisian Foreign Minister Abdelwahab Abdallah were among those who took part in the talks.