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Iranian officials say Haniyeh not invited to NAM summit

Aug. 26, 2012 12:15 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 27, 2012 2:52 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Iran's foreign minister informed his counterpart in the Palestinian Authority that Tehran had not invited Gaza premier Ismail Haniyeh to the Non-Aligned summit this week, after Haniyeh's government drew PA ire by claiming it had a seat at the table.

FM Riyad al-Malki said President Mahmoud Abbas is the only Palestinian leader invited, and will withdraw if anyone outside the official delegation participates in Tehran.

Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast confirmed to state-run Press TV that only Abbas was invited to represent Palestine.

"No formal invitation has been sent for anyone else," he continued.

"If we want to invite a special guest other than the heads of state, the invitation must be sent via the Non-Aligned Movement office in New York."

Haniyeh's office announced on Friday that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had invited him to attend, prompting livid officials in the West Bank to decry Iran and Haniyeh for reinforcing the split between their governments.

On Saturday Gaza government spokesman Taher al-Nunu said Haniyeh had accepted the invitation, and called on all parties to respect the democratic choice of the Palestinian people, stressing that Haniyeh will participate as an elected prime minister.

A year after Hamas won national elections, it seized control of the Gaza Strip as world censure of the movement and failing attempts to form a unity government with Fatah collapsed into inter-factional violence.

Despite efforts to reconcile the movements, they have ruled separate governments in the West Bank and Gaza ever since, both claiming sole legitimacy.
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