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Palestinian factions head to Cairo for reconciliation talks

© AFP | A Palestinian poses with the national flag on October 12, 2017 in Gaza City after Hamas and Fatah agreed to end a decade-long split

GAZA CITY (PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES) (AFP) - 

Leaders of various Palestinian factions headed for the Egyptian capital Cairo on Monday ahead of talks aimed at moving forward with a reconciliation agreement.

Senior figures from 13 different political factions -- including Gaza's rulers Hamas and the West Bank-based Fatah -- are due to meet on Tuesday for three-day talks, with potential topics of discussion including the formation of a new unity government.

Under an Egypt-brokered agreement reached last month, the Islamist Hamas is supposed to hand over civil control of Gaza to the Fatah-led national government on December 1.

A source at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt told AFP that representatives from various factions including Hamas had crossed over on Monday morning.

"The aim of the meeting is to incorporate all the factions as partners and not just spectators as the page of division is folded for the last time," Azzam al-Ahmed, who heads the Fatah delegation, said in a statement.

The Hamas delegation will be headed by deputy leader Salah al-Aruri and its Gaza head Yahya Sinwar.

Neither Fatah leader Mahmud Abbas nor Hamas chief Ismail Haniya will attend.

Another 11 other smaller political factions will also be in attendance.

The most likely source of tension at the meeting will be the future of Hamas's vast armed wing, although the talks are not expected to lead to a final ruling on the matter.

© 2017 AFP