Ma'an News Agency
October 13, 2011 - 12:00am

Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmad said Wednesday that his meeting in Cairo with Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal was "positive" and that reconciliation talks would restart "soon."

Al-Ahmad, who heads the Fatah delegation in talks with Hamas, told reporters after the meeting that the talks had not been planned, but were arranged at the last minute as the officials happened to be in the Egyptian capital.

During the meeting, Mashaal phoned President and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas and expressed his full supported the president's recent bid for full UN membership, al-Ahmad said.

The Hamas chief also congratulated Abbas on his speech to the General Assembly in New York on Sept. 23 and said the president's address represented the Palestinian people, al-Ahmad added.

Hamas has not publicly backed the UN bid. Party leaders say they were not consulted over the application and have accused Abbas of acting unilaterally. The Islamist movement banned rallies to support the bid in Gaza.

Earlier this month, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum rejected reports of a rift within the movement over the bid, and insisted the party's leadership in Damascus and in government in Gaza were united in rejecting the UN initiative.

Barhoum told Ma'an: "Hamas confirms the credibility of its leaders, as we all adopt the same stance and stress the same issues."

Barhoum dismissed Abbas' speech at the UN as a marketing effort to restart negotiations with Israel, a move he said was out of step with the national consensus.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has repeatedly urged Abbas not to "beg for a state" at the UN, and said the bid for UN membership sacrificed Palestinian rights.

On his jubilant return from New York, Abbas told reporters that while Hamas officials had publicly slammed the UN initiative, party leaders had phoned him privately to congratulate him on the bid.

Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip after ousting forces loyal to Abbas' Fatah party in 2007.

Following youth-led protests in the West Bank and Gaza demanding unity, the parties signed an unexpected reconciliation deal in Cairo on May 4.

The agreement set out a path for the creation of a transitional government of technocrats and an end to years of bitter animosity, but it has yet to be fully implemented.


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