Palestinian leader Mahmound Abbas (search) apologized to Kuwaitis on Sunday for Palestinian support of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein after his army invaded Kuwait in 1990, making the long-awaited remarks on the first leg of a Middle East (search) tour to repair relations with Arab nations.

Asked by reporters about the Palestinians' support for Saddam's invasion, Abbas responded: "Yes, we apologize for what we have done."

The Kuwaiti government, in a reconciliation gesture to the new Palestinian leadership, had said Abbas was welcome and apologies were not important. Abbas is widely expected to be elected in January to succeed Yasser Arafat (search), who died in November and had stormy relations with many Arab leaders at one time or another.

However, Abbas' visit remained controversial in Kuwait.

A group of lawmakers said in a statement Saturday that they "absolutely reject the visit ... before the PLO offers an official apology to the Kuwaiti people for the sin it committed against Kuwait."

It wasn't immediately clear if Abbas' brief remarks at the airport would satisfy the lawmakers.