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Hamas Says it Will Not be Pressured by 'Blackmail'

The militant group Hamas says it will not be pressured by what it calls international threats of blackmail over aid.

Hamas's top political leader Khaled Meshaal wrote in Britain's Guardian newspaper Tuesday that the group is "immune to bribery, intimidation and blackmail."

He also said it will never recognize, in his words, the legitimacy of a Zionist state created on its soil. But he added Hamas is prepared to negotiate a long-term truce.

Meanwhile in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated a call Monday from the Middle East "Quartet" for Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist and refrain from extremist declarations. He also said cutting aid to the Palestinians would be a mistake.

The Quartet - the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations - also said Monday in London that future help to the Palestinians inevitably will depend on factors including Hamas's commitment to nonviolence.

Hamas, which the United States classifies as a terrorist organization, won an overwhelming majority in Palestinian legislative elections last week.

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