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Hamas arrives in Moscow in search for legitimacy

Written by: Staff
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MOSCOW, Mar 3 (Reuters) Hamas officials arrived in Moscow today in a quest for international legitimacy marking the Islamic militant group's first talks with a major power involved in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking.

A Hamas source in Moscow said the six-member delegation had arrived and was being led by by exiled poliburo chief Khaled Meshaal. It included Hamas leader from the Gaza Strip Saeed Seyam. The source said Hamas officials were expected to begin talks with Russian officials later.

Although it deals a blow to US-led efforts to isolate Hamas since it swept Palestinian elections in January, Russia's mediation is seen by some in the West as a chance to talk the faction into renouncing violence and recognising Israel.

In Israel, the Russian overtures toward Hamas drew denunciations at first. But the Jewish state has adopted a wait-and-see attitude since Russia emphasised it was sticking to the view of international mediators.

The United States said Russia must put pressure on Hamas to change its ideology.

''Our position is that if you are going to meet with a terrorist group, you should make it clear to them that their way of doing business is unacceptable, that their philosophy is contrary to the norms of the civilized world, and that they should get with the programme,'' State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said.

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