The French Foreign Minister confirmed on Monday that an envoy had met with the Palestinian group Hamas sometime in April. "Having contacts is necessary," he said, in a move that could annoy the US. (Report: M. Henbest)
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner confirmed a report in the French daily Le Figaro quoting a retired ambassador who it said had met senior Hamas officials about a month ago.
“It would be difficult to deny it since the man who is in touch with them has spoken,” Kouchner told
“Having contacts is necessary. We had some before the invasion [takeover by Hamas] of
The move could annoy
U.S.-brokered peace talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have made little tangible progress, and few observers expect them to reach a deal by the end of the year as planned.
Kouchner played down the talks between France and Hamas.
“They are not relations. They are contacts,” he said.
“We have to be able to speak to each other if we want to play a role, if we want our emissaries to go to
Le Figaro said the Hamas leaders he had met included Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud al-Zahar.
“They said they were prepared to stop suicide attacks and what surprised me was that the Islamist leaders recognise the legitimacy of Mahmoud Abbas,” he said.
“In all the offices I went to, his picture hung next to those of Hamas officials,” he added.
Date created : 2008-05-19