U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called on the Islamic militant group Hamas to accept conditions set down by the so-called Middle East Quartet, comprising the U.S., Europe, the United Nations and Russia.

Rice issued the appeal in Cairo, where she met with Egypt's foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

She said her talks with her Egyptian counterpart and foreign ministers of the six member Gulf cooperation Council examined ways of bolstering Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the moderate Fatah faction.

The Quartet says Hamas, in power since March, must renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept prior agreements with the Jewish state.

The Egyptian foreign minister, standing alongside Rice, called the lack of a settlement for the Palestinians the root cause of instability throughout the region.

Rice is to meet Wednesday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Moderate Arab governments have been pressing the U.S. to help jump start peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians

Rice flies later this week to Israel for meetings with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. She is also scheduled to meet with Mr. Abbas.

Hamas, which took over the Palestinian Authority in March, has rejected the Quartet's conditions. Western nations have suspended aid to the Palestinians as a result and Israel is refusing to negotiate with the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

A plan by Hamas and Fatah to form a unity government has stalled.

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