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Europe calls for dialogue with Hamas

Calls emerged in Italy and Britain for the opening of a dialogue with the radical Islamist Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip and the Hezbollah.

world Updated: Aug 13, 2007 17:50 IST

Calls emerged in Italy and Britain on Monday for the opening of a dialogue with the radical Islamist Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip and the Hezbollah in Lebanon.

"We have to help the Hamas to develop," Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi was quoted as saying by Italian media.

In view of the current developments in the Middle East he added, "With the Palestinians divided, with two Palestinian nations, there will never be peace."

At the same time Prodi also made clear that he was supporting the present peace efforts between Israel and moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.

Members of the Fatah movement and followers of Abbas fled to the West Bank after Hamas took over power in the Gaza Strip in June.

Hamas does not recognise Israel and therefore does not receive any financial support from the international community.

The foreign policy committee of the British lower house of Parliament, meanwhile, said it was "counterproductive" not to talk to Hamas in the search for peace in the Middle East.

The British government and new Mideast special envoy Tony Blair should "urgently" seek contact with Hamas, a committee report published Monday said.

With its support of the international boycott of Hamas, Britain had contributed to the failure of the Palestinian government in June, the report said.

British legislators also criticised former Prime Minister Blair's refusal last year to demand an immediate ceasefire in the Lebanon war.

A speedier response to the fighting could have prevented "many losses among Israeli and Lebanese civilians," the report said.

Several Israeli moves had been "random" and "disproportionate," according to the report, and the British government should now seek contact with the moderate elements of Hezbollah.

The committee was also sceptical about US President George W. Bush's plans to send more troops to Iraq. "It does not look as if this would be successful," the report said.

First Published: Aug 13, 2007 17:44 IST