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Hamas to maintain ceasefire agreement with Israel: Russia

Written by: Staff
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Moscow, Mar 4 (UNI) Hamas has confirmed it would not break a 2005 ceasefire agreement with Israel, provided the Jewish state did not resort to military action.

''Hamas' unwillingness to withdraw from the March 2005 ceasefire agreement on condition that Israel refrained from military action as well was confirmed at the talks,'' Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement last night after the talks between Russian Foreign Minister Sergeo Lavrov and visiting Hamas delegation led by Khaled Meshaal, chief of Hamas' political bureau.

Lavrov said Russia was ''satisfied'' with the results of the talks which highlighted that Hamas understood its responsibility after winning the January parliamentary elections in Palestine.

''It is important that Hamas understands its responsibility, as a winning party, for law and order and security on Palestinian territories,'' Lavrov said.

''The obvious priority is to solve the most acute socio-economic problems of the Palestinian people,'' he added pointing out that these included poverty, unemployment and corruption.

Lavrov noted that the Hamas delegation gave a clear signal that it wished to maintain regional security to prevent any further destabilisation in the region.

''The Hamas delegation gave us firm assurances that its main aim is regional peace and preventing an explosion of the situation that would lead to an impasse,'' he said.

On his part, Meshaal played down hopes that Hamas would be able to broker a ceasefire with Israel.

''Last year, Palestine came forward with an initiative for a year,'' he said, adding ''But Israel did not end its aggression and did not approve this initiative. Therefore, we do not relate to a ceasefire with any particular enthusiasm.'' He said that the ball was now in Israel's court. ''Arafat was in talks with Israel for more than 20 years, but Israel killed Arafat.

Do you want us to sit down at the negotiating table, and let Israel kill Hamas?'' he asked.

Meshaal said any international aid would go to the Palestinian people and would be used to ''bring life in Palestine to normal''.

Lavrov said the Hamas delegation had been clear on this score and had suggested setting up an international mechanism to ensure funds went to Palestine National Authority (PNA) accounts rather than officials' pockets.

''Hamas gave us firm assurances funds that flow into the autonomy will enter PNA accounts and Hamas will not use this aid for other aims,'' he said.

UNI XC PR KN1331

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