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Abbas Says Efforts to Form Unity Government With Hamas Have Failed

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says efforts to form a national unity government with Hamas have failed.

Mr. Abbas spoke Saturday in Cairo, where he held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Palestinian leader said talks with the militant group will have to be restarted in an effort to form a unity government with Mr. Abbas' Fatah party.

His remarks come one day after Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders said a coalition government would not recognize Israel. However, they said they are prepared to support a long-term truce with the Jewish state.

Hamas and Fatah agreed to a coalition government in discussions earlier this month. It was widely reported that the agreement called for an implicit recognition of Israel.

Western aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government has been suspended since it took power earlier this year. The group's charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

Addressing the U.N. General Assembly Thursday, Mr. Abbas said any new Palestinian government would recognize Israel, and would honor all past agreements with the Jewish state.

Hamas agreed earlier this month to form a national unity government, raising hopes the group would finally agree to Western demands to recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by previous peace agreements.

On Friday, a U.S. State Department spokesman, Tom Casey, repeated that those conditions must be met before there is a resumption of aid to the Palestinian people.

The international boycott of aid to the Hamas-led government has economically crippled the Palestinian Authority, resulting in strikes by civil servants and increased tensions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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