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Hamas Leader, Egyptian Official Talk Palestinian Unity


An Egyptian official working to unite Palestinian factions met late Saturday with the exiled leader of Hamas.

Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman held talks with Khaled Meshaal about bringing together rivals Hamas and Fatah ahead of a new mideast peace proposal from the U.S., which is expected near the end of this month.

The two also discussed prospects for prisoner exchanges with Israel, including the case of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who has been in Hamas custody since 2006.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was also in Egypt Saturday for separate talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt has mediated prisoner negotiations since Hamas gunmen captured Shalit. Hamas representatives say the talks have gained momentum since German mediators got involved, making 11 trips to Gaza in the past month.

But Hamas official Osama Hamdan says the German mediation does not mean a breakthrough is imminent because he says Israel still refuses to accept conditions set down by Hamas.

Hamas is demanding the release of about 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, who is being held in the Gaza Strip.


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


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