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Washington asks Hamas not to comment on meetings with US officials

Middle East Monitor

MEMO, Sunday, 27 June 2010

Press reports have quoted a senior US official as saying that a high levelled American envoy will arrive in an Arab country this week to hold meetings with the leaders of Hamas and to deliver a message from the US administration.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper said that on Thursday, a senior political source in Hamas confirmed that both US official and non-official representatives had asked the group not to make any statements to the press about these meetings as a measure of caution toward the Jewish lobby and other pressure groups in the United States, who would take every step to stop all US contacts with the movement.

An official close to Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, who declined to be named, told Al-Quds Al-Arabi that "This is a difficult and thorny issue to talk about." The official added that "the Americans do not want anybody to talk about this subject out of fear of drawing the attention of lobbyists".

A correspondent in Washington for Al-Manar newspaper echoed an American official confirming the imminent arrival of a US envoy to an Arab country to meet with the leaders of Hamas. Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported that "the leadership of the movement in Damascus is following up these meetings" and pointed to the role of Osama Hamdan, a member of the Political Bureau of the Movement in these communications.

On its website, Al-Manar quoted a US official as saying that contacts established between Hamas and the US State Department last week paved the way for the upcoming visit of an American envoy. The official said that Hamas has weight in the Arab and Islamic world and thus should be dealt with, whether it is within the Palestinian government or not.

An American official revealed that the US administration had received numerous messages from European countries advising them to open dialogue with Hamas and confirmed they were awaiting the first steps from Hamas to promote communication. Both Arab and European countries have informed Washington that Hamas would be willing to consider advice and take positions without changing its ideology.

The sources said that an American academic of Palestinian origin from the Gaza Strip would oversee the management of contact with Hamas, and that this academic would be visiting Gaza to meet with Hamas leaders shortly. According to the sources, the US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, supports this move and advocates the need to deal with Hamas; as such he has urged Barack Obama not to ignore them.

The US official told Al-Manar that Washington has informed the Europeans of its desire to deal with any Palestinian government formed with the participation of Hamas or its blessing, and that letters containing these developments have been passed on to Hamas by Arab and European parties.

Source: Gaza - Sama

:: Article nr. 67415 sent on 27-jun-2010 19:25 ECT


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