BAGHDAD (AFP) - Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas praised Iraq on Sunday for supporting his people, without making mention of reports of human rights abuses against them in the war-torn country. Abbas, on the first visit to Baghdad by a Palestinian leader since the 2003 US-led invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein, held talks with President Jalal Talabani. Before the war, about 34,000 Palestinians lived in Iraq, where they enjoyed a privileged status under Saddam. But they have since become victims of numerous attacks. The United Nations says the number of Palestinians living in Iraq has more than halved, falling to 15,000, in the past six years. We thank the Iraqi government for taking care of our people here, the Palestinian President said at a joint news conference with his Iraqi counterpart. President Talabani considers this a part of the security of Iraq. Abbas, on his first trip to Iraq, did not comment on the allegations of rights abuses against Palestinians, and instead focused on boosting ties. We see great progress in Iraq, in democracy and security and all aspects of life, said the Palestinian president, who was later expected to meet Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. This country has started to recover and is out of danger, and that is important for Arabs and Muslims. During Israels assault on Gaza at the turn of the year, which killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, Baghdad condemned the violence amid Iraqi street protests in support of the embattled Hamas-ruled territory. The late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had strong ties with Iraq and supported the now executed Saddam during his 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Saddam remains popular among Palestinians due in part to his payment of millions of dollars to the families of suicide bombers and anti-Israel fighters, as well as his missile attacks on Israel during the 1991 Gulf War. The fortunes of Palestinian refugees, however, were turned upside down after the former presidents ouster. Many found themselves corralled into refugee camps on the Iraqi-Syrian border. Unlike millions of other refugees who have been able to flee Iraq, large numbers of Palestinians have not been allowed to enter either Syria or Jordan. Palestinians in Iraq have been forcibly evicted, arbitrarily arrested, abusively detained, publicly slandered, kidnapped and killed, said a UN report on refugees in Iraq in April 2008.