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Hamas Frees Top Palestinian Advisor


The Palestinian militant group Hamas has freed a senior advisor to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Hamas says it freed Omar al-Ghoul Friday after mediating with Palestinian factions.

Hamas forces arrested Ghoul at his home in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in December. Ghoul is a well-known newspaper columnist who has been critical of Hamas.

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip last June in fighting with President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party.

In Cairo this week, Mr. Abbas and Hamas met separately with Egyptian officials to try to resolve a crisis along Egypt's border with Gaza.

Hamas militants blew up portions of the barrier last month, allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to enter Egypt where they purchased goods. An Israeli blockade on Gaza has deprived residents of basic supplies.

Hamas says it wants to manage part of the border crossings. Mr. Abbas says the Palestinian Authority should take over Gaza crossings with Egypt and Israel.

A senior European Union official says the EU foreign policy chief and Mideast Quartet Special Envoy Tony Blair will travel to the Middle East next week to discuss the situation in Gaza.

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