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Hamas says equal rights to all religions in Palestine

Written by: Staff

Moscow, Mar 5 (UNI) Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has said the militant Islamic group would ensure equal rights to all faiths in the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) areas.

Russia's International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council (Upper House of Parliament) Chairman Mikhail Margelov said after talks with Mr Meshaal yesterday that he was happy the radical Islamic group was aware of its responsibility to the Palestinian people and the whole international community for peace in West Asia.

''Hamas representatives have demonstrated pragmatism,'' he said.

Mr Meshaal, who led the Palestinian delegation for talks here on the invitation of Russian President Vladimir Putin after the resounding victory of Hamas in the parliamentary elections in January, also met chief Russian Mufti Ravil Gainutdin.

''We asked to include a meeting with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia on the agenda of our visit as well,'' he told reporters after his talks with Mufti Gainutdin.

He said Orthodox Christians had participated in the Palestinian parliamentary elections as part of a single election bloc that also comprised Hamas.

''They won elections in Bethlehem, Ramallah, working together with Hamas,'' RIA Novosti quoted him as saying.

''This was an example of cooperation between faiths,'' he noted.

He said the Hamas delegation was satisfied on talks with the Mufti, who supported the Russian leadership's intention to foster open relations with the Muslim world.

''We are satisfied with the meeting with the Mufti. We were able to exchange constructive opinions. The conversation was positive on all sides,'' Mr Meshaal stressed.

''Russia, which occupies a territory spanning Europe and Asia, is best poised to sponsor a dialogue between civilisations and ensure a balance of force in the world,'' he said.

Explaining the Hamas position, Mr Meshaal said ''peace should be based on justice. This should be a true peace, which leads to the end of occupation and aggression, to the return of refugees to their homes, to the destruction of the dividing wall and the establishment of a political status for East Jerusalem.'' ''Israel must do this and only then can peace be achieved. It is Israel that must recognise Palestine's rights. We cannot believe in empty statements, twiddle our thumbs and watch our children getting killed. Israel must end occupation and aggression and our actions would not take much longer after that,'' Mr Meshaal said.


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