Hamas, Fatah hold reconciliation talks in Egypt
Palestinian officials from the Islamist Hamas group and President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party held talks in Cairo to pave the way for possible reconciliation after Israel's offensive in Gaza, Palestinian officials said.world Updated: Jan 26, 2009 19:24 IST
Palestinian officials from the Islamist Hamas group and President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party held talks in Cairo on Monday to pave the way for possible reconciliation after Israel's offensive in Gaza, Palestinian officials said.
The officials said Jamal Abu Hashem of Hamas and Azzam al-Ahmed of Fatah held the talks, the first in 10 months, on the sidelines of meetings between Palestinian groups and Egyptian intelligence officials.
"I have met with one of the leading members of the (Hamas) delegation in a long session to decide on dialogue," Ahmed told a news conference. "I agreed with him in a clear way to have another meeting."
The two sides last held formal talks in March 2008 in Yemen, whose efforts to broker a deal broke down after disagreement over whether Hamas should cede control of the Gaza Strip before talks started. Later, in November, Egypt delayed a round of planned talks after Hamas threatened to boycott the meeting.
The current talks come a week after Abbas urged feuding Palestinian factions to form a unity government to prepare for elections after Israel's Gaza offensive killed roughly 1,300 Palestinians. Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians were killed.
Hamas, which won 2006 Palestinian elections, wrested control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah in 2007. Abbas, still in control of the West Bank, is backed by the West but seen as weak by leaders of some Arab states like Syria.