Malaysian PM Najib to visit Gaza Strip

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 January, 2013, 4:23am


Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will visit the Gaza Strip this week, an official said, in what would be a rare visit by a foreign leader to the impoverished Palestinian territory.

Najib will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and other officials on the one-day visit tomorrow, an aide to the prime minister said.

The aide declined to give details of the visit or its purpose, saying that an official statement would be issued today.

In Gaza, officials said Najib would arrive from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing, and would meet Hamas premier Ismail Haniya before holding a joint news conference.

The itinerary will also include a visit Gaza's city's main Shifa hospital and the parliament building. The delegation was expected to deliver medical supplies, Hamas officials said.

Mainly Muslim Malaysia, a long-standing staunch supporter of the Palestinians' aspirations to statehood, does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.

During the conflict in Gaza last November, Najib urged international powers to influence Israel to halt what he called its military aggression against the Palestinians.

The prime minister had said Malaysia was deeply concerned at the crisis and ready to help in any way possible. He urged Hamas, the Islamist movement which runs Gaza, to refrain from action that would cause the conflict to worsen.

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas ended a week of fighting in November that left 177 Palestinians and six Israelis dead.