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abbas gonsalves
Mahmoud Abbas the President of the Palestinian National Authority, second from left, welcomes Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, third from right, to the Bethlehem in December 2011 (Photo courtesy Office of the PM, Kingstown).

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – This country is expected to receive within two weeks a monetary contribution from Georgia after Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ visit to that nation last month.

“… already, Ambassador [Camillo] Gonsalves [at the United Nations] has contacted me to tell me that the Georgian government has placed a sum of money with the Georgian ambassador and they are awaiting the instructions for the account of the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to lodge those monies, hopefully within the next two weeks,” Gonsalves told Parliament on Friday.

“And the president of Azerbaijan has pledged assistance. Azerbaijan is a very wealthy country,” Gonsalves further said.

“Is Georgia Christian? Azerbaijan is 90-odd per cent Muslim. One of the enduring battles in the world today is between Muslim and Christians. And this small country — a Christian country — has interposed itself in the process of the debate to see if we can lend a contribution for peace and harmony in this world,” Gonsalves further said in response to opposition criticism of his 15-day trip to the Middle East and Europe.

He said that when he returned to Kingstown on Jan. 4, the Israeli ambassador at the United Nation wrote his Vincentian counterpart, Camillo Gonsalves, inviting him to go to Israel to lay the basis for Prime Minister Gonsalves to visit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

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“And I will go when the invitation comes. And I will give my opinion on this matter between Israel and Palestine,” Gonsalves said.

This country is among several Caribbean Community nations that last year supported the United Nations’ recognition of a Palestinian state.

Gonsalves told lawmakers that on Thursday his government sent off to Palestine’s President Mahmoud Abbas a letter and to a designated official a series of documents relating to development here, especially the Argyle International Airport.

“… when we were going to vote for Palestine as an independent state at the united Nations and when a powerful country next to us sort to induce us to vote otherwise, we voted, on an issue of principle, for Palestine,” Gonsalves said.

“If I may say here, parenthetically, Mr. Speaker, for my brothers and sisters in the evangelical faith, I am also calling for not only an independent state for Palestine but a secure state for Israel with clearly defined boundaries, the position established at the United Nations,” he said.

“And I want to say this: that position is supported by the United States of America but I don’t have the problem of presidential politics in St. Vincent as to who contributing to it — any powerful people supporting one side or the other. We are free to make our determination and use our instruments of sovereignty and independence in the interest of our own people,” Gonsalves said.

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