MEP To Meet Palestinian President

25 October 2006
Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith will today (Saturday) meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Smith will meet Mr Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority in Ramallah alongside fellow MEPs as part of a five day tour of the region.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Mr Smith said

"This is a very important delegation and I am pleased that Scotland is to be represented.

"The problems of the Middle East affect far more than just those people in Palestine or Israel and it is important that we do not give up working for a peaceful and long lasting solution.

"I will be meeting not just the Palestian President, but also members of the Knesset, peace campaigners and families from both sides directly affected by the conflict.

"The EU is the largest donor to the region and it is important we take an objective view of the situation and ensure that the resources we are making available reach the right places.

"This is a fact finding mission that offers us the opportunity to see how the European Union and individual nations like Scotland can offer help and assistance in finding a peaceful solution.

"The SNP have long called for a Centre for Peace and Reconciliation to be established in Scotland to offer neutral ground on which people can work to solve their problems. The UK government by choosing Scotland as the location for the most recent talks on Northern Ireland have themselves demonstrated the potential Scotland has to contribute on the global stage.

"The EU has been a key player in the stalled road map process and other nations like Norway, Finland, Canada and Sweden have individually played a constructive role in helping bring people together to find solutions in areas of conflict. That is a role that an Independent Scotland could fulfil and one the SNP will actively promote.

"The problems of the middle east are deep rooted and will not be solved over night but it is important that we, as Scots and as members of the European Union play what part we can in reaching a solution."