//Iran pledges financial aid to Palestinian Authority

Iran pledges financial aid to Palestinian Authority

Wed Feb 22, 2006 8:43 AM ET

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran pledged on Wednesday to provide financial assistance to the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority following threats by Western nations to halt aid to a Hamas-controlled government.

"We will definitely provide financial aid to this government so that they can stand up against the oppression of America," Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA students news agency.

He was speaking after a meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who is touring regional countries in search of financial support."We hope that the new Palestinian government overcomes its current problems with the help of Islamic countries, including Iran," Larijani said.

U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday said a Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority should not be funded until it recognised Israel’s right to exist.

U.S. and Israeli officials are concerned that Tehran, which also refuses to recognize Israel, will gain influence over a Hamas-led government, hampering efforts to reach a Middle East peace settlement.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked Hamas on Tuesday to form a new government and continue his agenda of negotiating with Israel.

Asked on Wednesday whether a Hamas-led government would remain committed to previous peace agreements with Israel, Meshaal said: "We will review these agreements and announce our stance."

"Those agreements that are not in contradiction with the principles of Palestine will be agreed to and Hamas … will not do something that tramples on the right of the nation," the semi-official Mehr news agency quoted him as saying.