Abbas and Meshaal in Cairo for Talks

Jan 10 2013 / 11:24 pm

The leaders of Fatah and Hamas held separate meetings in Cairo with the Egyptian president in the latest round of reconciliation talks between their long-divided factions.

Egyptian officials had hoped to coax Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal into a three-way meeting with president Mohamed Morsi.

The two factions signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo in mid-2011, but the main points of the agreement have not been implemented.

Speaking after Morsy’s meeting with Abbas, Egyptian presidential spokesperson, Yasser Ali, gave no indication of any major progress, but said Cairo would spare no effort to bring about reconciliation.

Officials from Hamas and Fatah both tried to downplay the talks as well. Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri described them as “exploratory.”

“Egyptian officials aim to explore where things stand and look into the best ways to activate reconciliation efforts,” he told the Reuters news agency.

The parties have been at odds since 2006, when Hamas won a majority of seats in legislative elections. Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Ties have slowly begun to improve, with Hamas recently allowing Fatah to start holding rallies in Gaza, and PA allowing Hamas supporters to do the same in the West Bank, which they control.

It is too early to say whether the modest concessions foreshadow more meaningful political reconciliation.

The Hamas delegation also met with Egyptian intelligence officials to discuss the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Egypt negotiated the truce that ended an eight-day Israeli military offensive in November in the Gaza Strip, which left more than 150 Palestinians and six Israelis dead.

(Agencies and Al Jazeera – www.aljazeera.com)

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