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Hamas, Fatah to discuss unity talks in Egypt

RIA Novosti

13/02/2009 10:14 CAIRO, February 13 (RIA Novosti) - Senior officials from the two main Palestinian factions are discussing resuming Egypt-sponsored reconciliation talks that failed to get off the ground in November last year, Egyptian media said.

Egypt, which has traditionally played the role of mediator in intra-Palestinian negotiations, has invited factions to open a new round of reconciliation talks on February 22.

The Fatah delegation in the Egyptian capital is led by Ahmed Qurei, a former Palestinian prime minister, and Hamas is represented by the Islamist movement's deputy leader, Mussa Abu Marzuk.

"During the talks, Fatah and Hamas are planning to put an end to the conflict between the two factions and open a new page in [bilateral] relations," Mussa Abu Marzuk was quoted as saying by Egypt's MENA news agency late on Thursday.

The current meeting is the most prominent contact between the two rivals since Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip in violent clashes with Fatah activists in June 2007.

After Hamas took over Gaza, Fatah's control was limited to the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, headed by president Mahmud Abbas.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier called for all Palestinian factions to hold talks in Egypt as soon as possible to reconcile their differences.

The West recognizes Abbas and Fatah as the Palestinian government and calls Hamas a terrorist group.

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