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'Hamas must change before any EU talks'

Written by: Staff

Lappeenranta (Finland), Sept 1: Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said today Hamas would need to change before the EU could talk to the Palestinian militant movement in an effort to revive the West Asia peace process.

Drawing back from earlier comments that the time had come for contact with Hamas, Tuomioja told yesterday to a news conference: ''We have to be prepared to talk to anyone ... but not before they (Hamas) recognise preconditions.'' Among those were recognising Israel and giving up violence, said Tuomioja, whose government currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

''We have to put pressure on Hamas to change,'' he added.

Tuomioja had earlier broken ranks with the EU's common position by suggesting in an interview with the Financial Times that the time had come to have contact with Hamas, boycotted by the West because it refuses to recognise Israel's right to exist and renounce violence.

Asked about those comments, Tuomioja said: ''We have to push Hamas and we want to see a new Hamas.''


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