Japan vows 800 mil. yen in grant aid to Palestine

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida pledged Wednesday that Japan will provide 800 million yen in grant aid to the Palestinian Authority to help infrastructure development in the Palestinian territories, a Japanese official said.

In a meeting with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority Wednesday evening in Ramallah, Kishida also called on the Palestinian Authority to refrain from unilateral action so that stalled peace talks between Israel and Palestine can resume, the official said.

Kishida suggested the Palestinian Authority should halt its attempt to seek statehood by applying for membership of international organizations, according to the official.

The Israelis and Palestinians reached a basic deal last week to revive the stalled peace process.

The Japanese minister was quoted as telling Abbas that momentum toward a restart of peace talks stalled since fall 2010 has been increasing. Abbas said he is positive about resuming the negotiations and that Palestine will make serious efforts toward peace once the talks are restarted.

Earlier Wednesday, Kishida met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and agreed on the need to resume the peace talks, the official said.

Kishida told Peres during their meeting in Israel that Japan is ready to support the peace process and hopes for a frank dialogue. The minister also asked Israel to stop its Jewish settlement activities in occupied territory.

Peres struck a positive note on the prospect for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, saying the two sides should not miss out on the opportunity to start talking again, according to the official.

Japan is hoping to use its good ties with both Israel and Palestine to urge them to restart dialogue as soon as possible and help the United States push forward the Middle East peace process.

Kishida also held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.