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Exiled leader Meshaal says Hamas, Fatah nearing reconciliation

Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal said on Sunday that the Palestinian Islamist movement was close to a reconciliation deal with rival Fatah. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah in June 2007.

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AFP - Hamas's exiled leader Khaled Meshaal said in Riyadh on Sunday that the Egyptian-led talks aimed at reconciling the Palestinian Islamist movement and its rival Fatah were close to bearing fruit.

"We have made a lot of progress in the negotiations conducted in Cairo since the beginning of last year and we are close to an agreement," Meshaal told reporters after meeting Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's top diplomat.

But he said Hamas still had reservations about the document presented by Egypt for the reconciliation of the two main Palestinian factions.

According to extracts seen by AFP, Cairo's proposals include holding legislative and presidential elections in mid-2010.

They also stipulate the reinforcement under Egyptian supervision of Fatah's security forces, controlled by Palestinian president and Fatah leader Mahmud Abbas, and the release of prisoners from both sides in the West Bank and Gaza.

Egypt has already twice postponed the planned signing of a reconciliation agreement in Cairo because of deep divisions between Hamas and Fatah.

"We want this document to conform to what we have agreed with our brothers in Fatah and the other Palestinian organisations," Meshaal said. "We will then be ready to sign it in Cairo, with the others."

Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip from Fatah in a coup in June 2007, after winning Palestinian legislative elections the previous year.

 

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