February 15, 2013 - 1:00am

Bulgarian authorities forced a visiting Hamas delegation to leave the country Friday, the Palestinian Islamic movement said.

In a statement, Hamas said security forces stormed the hotel where the three Hamas officials have been staying since Wednesday and transferred them to the airport.

Hamas added that the move came as a result of Israel's pressure on Sofia.

The delegation was expected to stay for three more days to meet with Bulgarian parliamentarians and party leaders.

Upon the delegation's arrival in Bulgaria, Hamas said the visit was unprecedented as it was the first time that Hamas officials tour a member state of the EU, which classifies Hamas, rulers of the Gaza Strip, as a terrorist organization.

The EU insists that Hamas recognize Israel, respect peace deals and renounce violence as the condition for removing from the terrorist list.

In January 2012, Hamas officials visited Switzerland, which angered Israel and Jewish lobbyists in other countries.


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