Monday, February 8, 2010
High-ranking Hamas, Russian officials meet
Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Monday to discuss prospects of reunifying Palestinian factions.
Lavrov told reporters on Monday that the discussions mainly focused on reviving "efforts brokered by Egypt to secure Palestinian unity."
Meshaal, meanwhile, praised Russia for seeking "reconciliation" between the democratically-elected government of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and the rival Fatah movement of acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas.
The two main Palestinian movements have been deeply divided following the June 2007 takeover of the Gaza Strip by Hamas — which said the move was aimed at preventing a US-led coup to topple its government.
Since then the pro-western Fatah has been confined to the occupied West Bank.
In late 2008, Egypt began mediation efforts to resolve the differences between Hamas and Fatah, but the talks have so far failed yield results.
In an interview with the Russian daily Vremya Novostei Meshaal accused the United States of attempting to sabotage inter-Palestinian peace efforts, by stepping up pressure on Abbas and Egyptian officials.
"We know that the US special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, has recently put pressure on Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian officials by threatening to halt aid to the Palestinian Authority," Meshaal revealed on Monday.
He also added that despite calls for peace, Washington "doesn't care" about unity between Palestinian ranks.
Meshaal has visited Moscow on two previous occasions — in March 2006 and February 2007.