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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Fatah and Hamas talk truce; Abbas, King Abdullah, want Arab League role

JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (AFP) — Saudi King Abdullah and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Sunday agreed that the Arab League should oversee truce talks between Fatah and Hamas, a Palestinian diplomat said.

"The two sides agreed that all inter-Palestinian dialogue should take place under the supervision of the Arab League," Palestinian representative to Riyadh Jamal Shobaki told AFP.

King Abdullah and Fatah leader Abbas also discussed the status of US-backed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians during Sunday's meeting in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Shobaki added.

Abbas last week called for dialogue with Hamas, which ousted his loyalists from Gaza in June last year, breaking with his previous policy of rejecting any opening until the Islamists cede control of the territory.

Hamas responded favourably to Abbas's overture, raising hopes of reconciliation between the two sides although prospects of a peace deal with Israel before the end of the year look increasingly unlikely.

Saudi Arabia brokered an agreement between Fatah and Hamas in early 2007 that led to the formation of a Palestinian unity government but unbridled tensions between the two sides led to fierce fighting which resulted in the Gaza takeover only months later.

Abbas was late Sunday to travel to Cairo for talks on Monday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Shobaki said.

Arab leage role in Fatah-Hamas reconciliation talks

Fatah, Hamas: Senegal reconciliation talks reignite 'mutual respect'
By Reuters

Talks between Fatah and Hamas in the Senegalese capital Dakar this weekend had restored "an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect" between the Palestinian factions, a statement signed by both sides said on Sunday.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, chairman of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, offered his services in March as a mediator between the two parties, which clashed a year ago when Islamist Hamas militants ousted power from Fatah in the Gaza Strip in bloody coup.

A statement following the talks, which began on Friday, said Senegal would resume contact with both sides to organise future meetings with the aim of "reconciling the Palestinian family".

"The Palestinian representatives ... thank the mediator for managing to restore an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, which allowed them to discuss the fundamental interests of the Palestinian people," said the communique signed by Hikmat Zeid for Fatah, Emad Khalid Alamy for Hamas and Senegal's Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio.

Senegal's state news agency APS reported on Saturday that Wade had met individually with the Palestinian delegations. "The mediation would take place in seven stages," a presidential spokesman said.

Hamas ended more than 40 years of the more secular Fatah's ascendancy with a victory in parliamentary elections in 2006. Hamas fighters went on to rout Fatah forces and take over the Gaza Strip in June 2007.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman based in the Gaza Strip, said the daily arrest and torture of its members in the West Bank by security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah "did not prepare the atmosphere for dialogue."

"Hamas has taken steps (towards dialogue) and the president of the authority and Fatah movement in the West Bank are demanded to take similar steps to prove seriousness and concern and good intentions," he told Reuters.

Full article at: Hamas - Fatah talks restore trust and respect

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