Egypt's army rulers to meet Palestinian president

Reuters , Sunday 3 Apr 2011

Palestine's president Mahmoud Abbas is set to visit post-Mubarak Egypt for the first time

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during the Fatah party's executive committee meeting at his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday, 27 March 2011. (AP)

Egypt's military rulers will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday to seek ways to ease tension between his Fatah movement and its rival Hamas, Egypt's state news agency said Saturday.

Reconciling the rival movements running Palestinian affairs is seen as vital to any prospect of Palestinian statehood based on peace with Israel.

Abbas will hold "important talks" with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Egyptian state news agency MENA said.

Fatah took part in US-sponsored direct talks with Israel last year, drawing condemnation from Hamas which seized Gaza from Fatah in 2007 and is hostile to the Jewish state.

Israel tightened a blockade on Gaza after Hamas took control there.

Egypt sponsored six months of talks between Hamas and Fatah in 2009 that led to a draft pact to form a national unity government.

Fatah signed the pact but Hamas refrained, demanding guarantees for international recognition.

Abbas, whose movement still runs affairs in self-ruled areas of the West Bank, said last week he was ready to visit Gaza to end divisions and kick-start a "comprehensive dialogue."

Delegations from Fatah and Hamas visited Cairo last week, meeting with officials from Egypt's intelligence agency, the foreign ministry and the Arab League.

The army now runs Egypt after an uprising ousted President Hosni Mubarak on February 11. 

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