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Hamas leader says no future for Mideast peace talks

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, February 8 (RIA Novosti) - The leader of the radical Palestinian group Hamas said on Monday he sees no prospect whatsoever in peace talks in the Middle East as Israel is led by warmongers.

"I do not expect any progress in peace talks on the Palestinian, Syrian or any other direction of the Middle East settlement as the Israeli leadership is the leadership of war, aggression and occupation, rather than a leadership taking a stand for peace," Khaled Meshaal said at a news conference in Moscow.

He also said that talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas were not a top priority for Hamas in inter-Palestinian reconciliation.

"The primary goal is to reach inter-Palestinian reconciliation, not to meet with Abbas. A meeting is not that important... The primary objective is to forge reconciliation," he said.

He said that Hamas will sign the Cairo reconciliation deal, which Egypt put forward in early September 2009, only after it is amended according to previously reached agreements.

The two largest Palestinian factions split in June 2007 when Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip and pushed the ruling Fatah movement out of the enclave. The six previous rounds of reconciliation talks resulted in failure.

The dates of parliamentary and presidential elections are a major stumbling block in reconciliation efforts. Fatah plans to hold both polls in June 2010, while Hamas argues that the presidential polls should be held earlier as the presidential term of Abbas expired in January.

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 in December 2008, which saw some 1,300 Palestinians killed and 5,000 injured. Egypt plays the role of a mediator between the two factions, which until recently had no direct dialogue.

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