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Hamas, Fatah Meet in Cairo


Officials from the rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah have met in Cairo for the first time in 10 months.

Hamas and Fatah representatives met on the sidelines of talks between Palestinian groups and Egyptian intelligence officials in Cairo.

Last week following Israel's three-week military offensive in Gaza, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the rival factions to form a unity government before holding elections.

The current head of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference said Hamas and Fatah must put aside their differences in order to negotiate a lasting peace with Israel.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has met repeatedly with leaders of the rival groups since taking charge of the OIC last March. Presidential spokesman Amadou Sall, said Mr. Wade believes a unified Palestinian position is the only way to make progress toward peace.

Sall said President Wade has also been meeting with Israeli officials to prepare for mediation between Israel and a unified Palestinian Authority.

Because of the enormity of challenges facing that mediation, Sall told reporters in the Senegalese capital that President Wade has been meeting with regional leaders in an effort to stabilize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, following the end of fighting in Gaza.

Arab foreign ministers joined their European Union counterparts Sunday in a similar appeal for Hamas/Fatah unity. Meeting in Brussels, European foreign ministers said it is critical that the rival factions unite to open border crossings in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas won legislative elections in 2006 and took charge of the Gaza Strip one year later, leaving President Abbas' Fatah movement in charge of the West Bank.

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