ISLAMABAD, May 19: Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas said here on Thursday that Pakistan could play a vital role in resolving the Israel-Palestine dispute and bringing peace to the Middle East. Talking to reporters after holding talks with President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz at the Prime Minister’s House, the visiting Palestinian leader said he was hopeful about the resolution of the Middle East crisis.

Mr Abbas said Pakistan enjoyed an important status and role in the comity of nations and it could help more effectively than any other country in the resolution of the dispute which was a big obstacle to peace in the Middle East. It is learnt that in talks with President Musharraf and Prime Minister Aziz, the Palestinian leader was assured that Pakistan would try to persuade the international community, particularly the US, to ensure a peaceful and just resolution of the Palestine-Israel dispute.

Sources said President Musharraf and Prime Minister Aziz informed the Palestinian president that since Pakistan did not have diplomatic relations with Israel it could not directly play the role of a mediator in the dispute.

They, however, extended full support to the efforts that the international community as well as the Arab countries were making to get the dispute resolved.

“Pakistan’s set of proposals for restoring peace in the Middle East was being reviewed with great interest, for undoubtedly Pakistan is an important country of the world community which can play an effective role in resolution of the issue,” Mr Abbas said.

After holding talks with the Pakistani leadership, the Palestinian leader left for New Delhi where he would solicit support for the Palestine Authority over Israel’s inaction on the peace roadmap, including removal of settlements in Gaza and the West Bank.

Talking about the peace process in the subcontinent, Mr Abbas supported the ongoing composite dialogue between Pakistan and India and hoped that a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue would be found as a result of these dialogue.

He backed the policies of President Musharraf aimed at continuation of dialogues with India in order to seek a negotiated settlement of all issues between the two countries. He told journalists that his country was committed to making efforts to ensure peace in the Middle East and for this purpose the Palestine Authority had taken the steps that it had pledged in talks with Israel.

He said Israel had to accept the world community’s demand of ‘live and let live’ by making peace with Palestine as permanent peace in the Middle East was possible only with the just resolution of the Palestine-Israel dispute.

The Palestinian leadership, he said, stood firm in its resolve to strive for peace in the world’s most disturbed area and added that the Palestine Authority had overcome all difficulties it was facing at the hands of militants and had successfully convinced them to remain peaceful till an outcome of the roadmap was found.

He invited President Musharraf to visit Palestine and watch the situation by himself. His invitation, he said, had been accepted by President Musharraf, who said Pakistan favoured a sovereign state of Palestine.

President Musharraf said Pakistan would continue its political and diplomatic support to Palestine at international forums.

He said that Pakistan was ready to provide assistance to Palestine in the fields of good governance, internal administration and security. He observed that Islam was a great religion and had no links with the menace of terrorism.