Chief of Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on Saturday to hold talks with senior Egyptian officials on his first such visit as leader, a Hamas spokesman said.
In the past few months Hamas has sought to mend relations with Egypt, which controls their one border crossing and has, under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, been highly wary of ties between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, ousted from power by Sisi after mass protests.
Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, a densely populated coastal territory that shares borders with Egypt and Israel, with which it has fought three wars since 2008.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) September 9, 2017
For much of the last decade, Egypt has joined Israel in enforcing a partial land, sea and air blockade of Gaza.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the talks with Egypt will focus on alleviating the blockade and mending a longstanding rift with rival group Fatah, headed by Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
There was no immediate comment from Egyptian officials on the talks.
Haniyeh was elected Hamas leader in May. The group maintains a sizeable armed wing in Gaza since seizing the enclave from Fatah in 2007.
— Middle East Monitor (@MiddleEastMnt) September 9, 2017
Israel, which signed a 1979 peace treaty with Egypt and coordinates closely with it on security, is maintaining a close watch on discussions between Egypt and Hamas. Like the United States and the European Union, it regards Hamas as a terrorist group.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)