Archive for Saturday, March 4, 2006

Hamas leaders reject Russian advice on Israel

March 4, 2006


— In their highest-profile foreign visit since Palestinian elections swept them into power in January, leaders of the radical Islamic group Hamas met with top Russian diplomats Friday in Moscow but rebuffed Russian attempts to persuade the movement to soften its hostility toward Israel.

The movement's political leader, Khaled Mashaal, said Hamas' position on recognition of Israel was non-negotiable.

"The question of recognition is a closed issue," Mashaal said upon his arrival in Moscow. "We do not intend to recognize Israel."

After four hours of talks with Russian officials, Mashaal said Hamas' willingness to discuss peace with Israel is conditioned on several steps Israel must take, including withdrawal from Palestinian territory that Hamas says is occupied by the Jewish state.

Talks were expected to continue into the weekend. The six-member Hamas delegation met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his top aides, but no meeting with President Vladimir Putin was on the agenda.


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