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US Diplomat Meets Member of New Palestinian Government


Palestinian officials say a U.S. diplomat has held the first U.S. talks with a member of the new Palestinian unity government.

The officials say U.S. Consul General Jacob Walles met Palestinian finance minister Salam Fayyad Tuesday. Fayyad is not affliliated with the main Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah.

The U.S. consulate in Jerusalem declined to comment.

On Monday, a State Department spokesman said U.S. officials will have contact with non-Hamas members of the new Palestinian government on a case-by-case basis.

The new government assumed office on Saturday, and includes both the Islamic militant group Hamas and the more moderate Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas has refused international demands to renounce violence and recognize Israel.

Also Monday, the armed wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for a shooting attack that wounded an Israeli citizen -- the first such incident since the new Palestinian government assumed power.

Israel condemned the violence as a "terror attack" and said it showed that the Palestinian unity government is failing to meet international demands to halt violence and recognize Israel's right to exist.

Hamas' military wing, Qassam Brigades, said the shooting was in response to Israeli aggression.

Four months ago, Israeli and Palestinian officials agreed to a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. The truce has mostly held.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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