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Fatah, Hamas to sign reconciliation agreement Oct. 22 in Cairo

RIA Novosti

08:10 02/10/2009 CAIRO, October 2 (RIA Novosti) - Egypt has set the signing of a reconciliation pact between the rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas for October 22, an Egyptian newspaper reported.

Al Ahram cited a high-placed Fatah representative as saying the two groups will gather in the Egyptian capital on October 20 to hold final talks before signing the document.

Egypt plays the role of mediator between the two factions, which until recently had no direct dialogue. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said Monday that a reconciliation agreement could be signed in October.

In early September Cairo put forward a new document to reconcile the two largest Palestinian factions, which split in June 2007 when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and pushed the Fatah movement out of the enclave. The six previous rounds of reconciliation talks resulted in failure.

The document envisions general elections to be held in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in the first half of 2010, a reform of Palestinian security services under the Egyptian control and the release of political prisoners by both factions.

Egypt has already received the endorsement from the officially recognized government of Fatah in the West Bank, which is headed by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Armed clashes between Fatah and Hamas came some 18 months after Hamas had won Palestinian parliamentary elections in 2006. Fatah has renounced violence, while Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and reserves the right to use violence in its struggle to create a Palestinian state.

Reconciliation talks resumed after Israel's assault on Gaza at the turn of the year, which saw some 1,300 Palestinians killed and 5,000 injured.

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