Javier Solana meets Abbas in Ramallah

After visiting Gaza without meeting Hamas leaders, EU foreign policy chief meets PA president.

solana abbas 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
solana abbas 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana met Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Saturday. The meeting came after he toured the Gaza Strip on Friday - the highest ranking European official to visit the territory since it was overrun by Hamas in June 2007. Solana did not meet with Hamas leaders, who are boycotted internationally as a terror group. Solana's tour comes amid a flurry of talks on an Israel-Hamas truce, reconciliation between Palestinian factions and donations for the territory's reconstruction. "I came to express solidarity with the people of Gaza and to tell them that we will be helping them in the reconstruction process," Solana said, standing at the ruins of the American International School of Gaza, destroyed during the IDF's recent counter-terror operation. The EU's executive office, the European Commission, said Friday it was earmarking $556 million for the Palestinians in 2009, though it was not clear how much of that was aimed at Gaza. The US is expected to pledge $900 million at next week's international Gaza reconstruction conference. Solana's visit is part of an increase in the number of high-profile foreign dignitaries coming to Gaza since the IDF offensive there ended Jan. 18. US Senator John Kerry visited last week, the highest-level visit by a US official since the Hamas takeover in June, 2007. The visits could indicate a greater willingness on the part of the international community to become involved in Gaza, which has been largely isolated since Hamas came to power.