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Abbas to Send First Fatah Envoys into Gaza


Palestinian officials say envoys from President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction will visit the Gaza Strip on Tuesday to pave the way for reconciliation talks with their Islamist Hamas rivals.

West Bank Fatah leader Hikmat Zeid said he will lead the first mission by representatives of the secular, Western-backed faction to Gaza since Hamas took over the territory a year ago.

Zeid said he has no plans to meet with Hamas during the trip but instead will talk with Fatah leaders in Gaza, many of whom oppose reconciliation with Hamas.

The Reuters news agency quoted Zeid as saying Arab efforts were underway to organize a meeting of all Palestinian factions - including Hamas and Fatah - in Cairo before the end of June.

Officials from the two groups met in Dakar, Senegal following Mr. Abbas's call for reconciliation talks earlier this month. A joint Fatah-Hamas statement said the talks had restored an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect.

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


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