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Hamas says being kept away from Arab summit

Written by: Staff

KUWAIT, Mar 26 (Reuters) Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal said today the Palestinian militant group was intentionally being excluded from an Arab summit in Sudan and urged Arab leaders to work with the new government Hamas forms.

''Basically Hamas is being excluded. There is interest that the new Hamas government not attend the Arab summit despite our keen desire to attend the meeting,'' he told a news conference at Kuwait airport before departing the Gulf Arab state.

However, he did not say who was seeking to exclude Hamas or why.

Last week, Hamas said it would not attend the Khartoum summit because parliamentary proceedings would delay the ratification of the government it is trying to form.

Meshaal said Hamas would have aimed to get the government voted in earlier if it had felt welcome to attend the summit.

''Our message to the Arab summit is to support the Palestinian people, defend their rights and interests, respect the results of the elections and work with the new Palestinian government,'' he said.

Meshaal, whose group has vowed to continue to fight Israel, is leading a Hamas delegation touring Arab and other states to seek political and financial support following the group's election win in January.

The United States and the European Union have threatened to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority unless Hamas renounces violence against Israel and recognises the Jewish state.

Meshaal said Hamas was awaiting word from the Arab summit and from other Islamic countries on how much aid would be given to the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas says the Palestinian Authority needs 170 million dollars a month, most of which would go towards salaries.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa said yesterday in Khartoum that Arab leaders would pledge at the summit to maintain financial support at its current level of 50 million dollars a month, well below the amount Hamas is seeking.

Iran has said it will meet any shortfall in funding for the Palestinian government formed by Hamas.

Asked if Hamas would one day recognise Israel, Meshaal said there was no point making concessions.

''Those who gave concessions did not gain a thing, and reached only a mirage,'' he said.

Reuters DKS BD2012

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