Oops! Old habits die hard for Palestinian Abbas

CAIRO Wed Feb 6, 2013 10:56pm IST

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 29, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah January 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Old habits die hard for Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian president almost hailed deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak during an Islamic summit in Cairo on Wednesday, and thanked a deceased Arab king for remarks delivered later in the meeting.

Abbas pulled himself up in mid-sentence as he began to utter Mubarak's name during a televised address to the summit chaired by President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist jailed in the Mubarak era who was elected head of state last year.

"It pleases me, at the beginning, to offer greetings to Mr President Mohamed Hos ... Mohamed Mursi, the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt," Abbas said, stopping himself before committing a diplomatic blunder.

Chairing a later session, Abbas thanked King Mohammed V for remarks read on his behalf by the Moroccan prime minister. "Mohammed VI, Mr President, Mohammed V has passed away," said Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, correcting Abbas.

Mohammed V died in 1961.

(Reporting by Tom Perry; Editing by Paul Taylor and Angus MacSwan)

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