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Fatah, Hamas Agree To National Unity Government

August 26, 2006 -- Representatives of Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas's Fatah movement and the Hamas militant group today reached an agreement to form a national unity government.

Fatah leader Nabil Shaath said after three days of talks between the two Palestinian factions in the capital of Jordan, Amman, that Fatah now seeks to create a government with Hamas.

Shaath said a national unity government "will strengthen our hands to face the Israeli occupation."

Fatah lost to Hamas in the January general elections.

Reuters news agency quoted "leaders" of Fatah as saying there would be no conditions for joining a coalition government with Hamas, but insisted there had to be a pragmatic approach to resuming peace talks with Israel.

Meanwhile, Ghazi Hamad, a spokesman for the Hamas-led Palestinian government, said today that two kidnapped journalists who work for the U.S. Fox News network are "fine and not harmed."

Threatening unspecified consequences, kidnappers who said they were from the previously unknown Holy Jihad Brigades set a deadline for the United States to release all Muslims held in U.S. custody.

That deadline passed earlier today, but Hamad's comments indicated the two were still alive.

Hamad said he expects "good news" about the kidnapped journalists within two days. Hamad did not explain his reasons for those comments or how he knew the two were still alive.

Olaf Wiig, a freelance cameraman from New Zealand, and producer Steve Centanni from the United States were kidnapped on August 14. On August 23 their captors released a video of the two and a statement with the demand to release all Muslims in U.S. jails.

(AP, AFP, Reuters)

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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