PA FM embarks on trip to raise money in Iran, Asia

Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar was slated to depart Tuesday for Asia, including Iran, where he hoped to raise money for the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, his office said. Zahar will visit Iran at the end of a trip that will include Indonesia, Malaysia, China and Sri Lanka, said his spokesman Taher Nunu. "The aim is to mobilize political and financial support for the Palestinian government," Nunu said. The ruling Hamas Party has been unable to pay salaries of 165,000 civil servants since it was elected to power in January. The United States and Europe have cut off millions of dollars (euros) in aid to the Palestinian Authority in an effort to force the anti-Israeli Hamas to reform. Hamas refuses to recognize Israel, renounce violence and accept Israeli-Palestinian agreements.