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Hamas Says it is Ready to Talk to Obama


Hamas's exiled leader says the Palestinian militant group is ready to talk with U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on the basis that his administration respects Hamas's "rights and options."

In an interview Saturday with the British network Sky News, Khaled Meshaal said Mr. Obama must deal with Hamas if he wants to address the wider conflict in the Middle East.

Meshaal said Hamas won a majority of votes in 2006 parliamentary elections and is not a danger to anyone.

The Bush administration has refused to talk to Hamas, which has not renounced violence or recognized Israel. The group's charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. The United States classifies Hamas as a terrorist group.

Hamas seized the Gaza Strip by force last year from the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Meshaal spoke to Sky News from the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say they have postponed reconciliation talks scheduled for next week with Palestinian factions.

Hamas officials earlier said they planned to boycott the talks with rival Fatah.

Egypt invited Hamas and Fatah, along with smaller Palestinian factions, to a meeting in Cairo on November ninth to settle the conflict between the two larger groups. The factions have been divided since Hamas militants drove Fatah fighters out of Gaza in June 2007.

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

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