S'pore reiterates Palestinian commitments

SINGAPORE - Singapore reiterated its commitment to assist the Palestinian National Authority with capacity building efforts, Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli said at a 22-nation meeting to discuss Palestinian development in Jakarta.

"We have been sharing our developmental experiences with Palestinian officials since the 1990s in areas such as good governance, public administration and urban planning through our Singapore Cooperation Programme," he said, in a speech at the second Conference on Cooperation among East Asian Countries for Palestinian Development (Ceapad) on Saturday.

Singapore is also working with the Palestinian Anti-Corruption Commission to organise a study visit, he said.

"We hope that the sharing of Singapore's experience and our technical assistance will benefit the Palestinian people as they work towards the goal of an independent state under the framework of a two-state solution," Mr Masagos said, according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement.

He also met Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, who expressed his appreciation for Singapore's enhanced technical assistance package for Palestinian development, which was announced at the inaugural Ceapad meeting.

Mr Hamdallah and Mr Masagos also exchanged views on potential areas of cooperation, including water management and public administration.

Ceapad is a Japanese initiative launched in Tokyo last year. This year's event, which ended on Saturday, was co-chaired by Indonesia, the Palestinian Authority and Japan.

The details of the Middle East peace deal being discussed have not yet been made public, but Mr Hamdallah said on Friday "all issues actually have been (put) on the table".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to leave for Washington today for talks with US President Barack Obama on the peace negotiations, while talks between Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Mr Obama are slated for March17, Agence France-Presse reported.

Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.