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Hamas leader claims secret talks with US

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Posted on June 1 2010 5:29 am
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by David Hearst

The United States is sending a succession of envoys to engage with Hamas but lacks the bravery to talk to the Islamist movement openly, its leader, Khaled Meshal, said in an interview with the Guardian. Meshal praised President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia for meeting him in Damascus and the Syrian president, Bashar Al-Assad, for hosting the discussion 10 days ago. He told Medvedev that the US was also talking to him. “I thanked him for that meeting and told him the Americans contact us, but are not brave eno
ugh to do so openly,” said Meshal. “I am confident that in the very near future, everyone will realise that they will have to deal with Hamas.

The claim that the US is engaging with a group it lists as a terrorist organisation will upset the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, whose security forces have locked up and allegedly tortured leading Hamas members in the West Bank. But four years into Israel’s blockade of Gaza, the revelation could be seen as a sign that cracks are opening up in the western consensus that Hamas should remain isolated. Russia is a member of the Middle East Quartet, which demands recognition of the state of Israel as a precondition to a seat at the negotiating table.

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