Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA)
December 21, 2008 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on a visit to Russia, strongly criticized the radical Islamic Hamas movement on Sunday, saying the organization's "abuse of religion for political ends" was unacceptable, Russia's Interfax news agency reported.

Speaking in Grozny, the capital city of the Chechen Republic in Russia, Abbas said that extremists were to blame for Islam receiving so little respect in the world at present.

In reality, terrorists have no relationship with religion, he declared.

Abbas is the head of the moderate Fatah Party, Hamas' rival. He also spoke of trying to unite Palestinians by trying to enter into dialogue with Hamas. This, he said, was difficult to achieve.

In talks with the Kremlin leadership in Grozny, he predicted "a bright future" for Chechnya. The region, affected by two wars in the 1990s had "paid a high price." Palestinians and Chechens had much in common, Abbas added.

Abbas accompanied Chechen President Ramsan Kadyrov on a visit to the grave of Kadyrov's father Achmat, the former president, who was killed in a bomb attack on a Grozny stadium in May 2004.

Kadyrov described Abbas as "a true Muslim," while Abbas said he followed developments in Chechnya closely.

Abbas arrived in Chechnya the previous night. He said he felt "at home" in the North Caucasus, with its cold temperatures and thick snowfall. He was due to travel to Moscow later Sunday for a three-day visit that includes scheduled talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.


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