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Hamas Leader to Visit Moscow


Russia says Khaled Mashaal, the political chief of the Islamic militant group Hamas, will visit Moscow beginning on Sunday.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry said Russia hopes to help stabilize the situation in the Palestinian territories and also address the demands of the international Mideast Quartet, grouping the United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia.

On Wednesday, the Quartet called on the new Palestinian unity government to recognize Israel, renounce violence and honor past agreements with the Jewish state.

Mashaal is seeking support for the power-sharing deal reached between Hamas and the moderate Fatah faction of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The deal does not require Hamas to recognize Israel or renounce violence, and the group refuses to meet the Quartet's demands.

In Cairo Thursday, Mashaal called on the international community to lift sanctions, imposed by the U.S. and Europe after Hamas came to power last year.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Quartet should support the unity government and end an international boycott.

Shortly after Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006, Mashaal visited Moscow, breaking the international isolation of the militant group.

The U.S. and Israel say they are ruling out talks with a Palestinian unity government that does not meet international demands.

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