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Hamas to send delegation to Egypt: Al-Jazeera

Hamas will send a delegation to Egypt today for talks on the war in Gaza, Al-Jazeera television reported.

world Updated: Jan 05, 2009 08:08 IST

Hamas will send a delegation to Egypt today for talks on the war in Gaza, Al-Jazeera television reported.

A Hamas official was quoted as saying the Islamist movement was "answering an Egyptian invitation for a discussion."

The report did not say what exactly would be discussed or whether the Hamas delegation would come from the Gaza Strip, which the group has controlled since seizing power in June 2007, or from its offices in Damascus.

Hamas officials could not immediately be reached to confirm or deny the report.

Israeli ground forces invaded Gaza on Saturday night, widening a campaign aimed at forcing Hamas to stop firing rockets on the Jewish state, which began on December 27.

Since then, at least 512 Palestinians have been killed.

Hamas has said it would be open to a ceasefire with Israel if the Jewish state would lift its blockade on Gaza and open the crossings into the densely populated, impoverished coastal strip.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will be in Cairo today as part of a four-nation tour aimed at pressing a French initiative for a ceasefire.

Also due in Cairo today is a delegation from the European Union.

Israel believes Hamas may be seeking "a respectable" way out of the conflict, having underestimated the scope of the military offensive, Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog said on yesterday.

He told CNN television Hamas was under "huge pressure" from the military operation.

"The intelligence reports that we've received today in the Israeli cabinet are that the Hamas is looking for a respectable way of finding a way to get out of this situation," he said.

Israeli army spokesman Avi Benayahu told public television "Hamas has come to the conclusion that it has made an enormous strategic error by refusing to extend a ceasefire accord."

In November, Hamas pulled out of planned talks in Egypt that were scheduled to discuss reconciliation between the group and the Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.