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Hamas says recognition of Israel not on agenda

Written by: Staff

MOSCOW, Mar 4: Palestinian election winner Hamas will not recognise Israel despite pressure from Russia to do so during talks in Moscow, a senior leader of the Islamic militant group said today.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, Hamas's deputy political leader, told Reuters in an interview that recognising Israel would negate all Palestinian rights.

''It means a negation of the Palestinian people and their rights and their property, of Jerusalem and the holy sites, as well as negation of their right of return. Therefore the recognition of Israel is not on the agenda,'' Abu Marzouk said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov yesterday told a Hamas delegation during a first day of talks it must recognise Israel's right to exist and abide by interim peace deals.

That echoes demands made by the Quartet of West Asia mediators, which besides Russia includes the United Nations, the United States and the European Union.

The Moscow visit is the first by Hamas leaders to a major foreign power since it won Palestinian elections on January 25.

Hamas is hoping to gain a measure of international standing from the three days of talks, opposed by Israel and the United States, which both brand the group a terrorist organisation.

Abu Marzouk is part of the Hamas delegation in Moscow.


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