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Abbas, Meshaal to Meet in Cairo despite Egypt Unrest

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal will meet in Cairo this week despite the unrest rocking Egypt, a senior Hamas official said on Tuesday.

The meeting between the exiled Hamas leader and Abbas, who heads the rival Fatah movement, will go ahead "as scheduled on Thursday," Hamas official Ismail Radwan told AFP.

Palestinian officials have variously given Thursday and Friday as the day when the two leaders will meet to finalize details of a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas which was signed in May but has yet to be implemented.

The deal called for the immediate formation of an interim government to pave the way for presidential and legislative elections within a year.

But implementation of the agreement has stalled, with the two sides failing to agree on the make-up of the caretaker government and, in particular, who will head it.

Abbas has reportedly insisted on keeping Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, in a demand repeatedly rejected by Hamas.

But Radwan said the idea of Fayyad heading the new government "has been ruled out already, and now we are talking about consensus principles to allow the selection of someone to head the government in line with the reconciliation deal."

Both factions reportedly have preferred candidates and Radwan said Hamas would submit its list of names "if we are asked to do so," while indicating "the first priority is to agree on a capable nationalist figure."

He refused to confirm reports that Hamas would agree to implement a year-long official truce with Israel.

"There is no discussion about the management of the fight against the occupation, but the issue is subject to national agreement (between all factions) before and after the formation of the government," he said.

Radwan said a senior delegation of Gaza-based Hamas leaders including Khalil al-Hayya and Nizar Awadallah, would leave for Cairo on Wednesday where they would be party to the talks between Abbas and Meshaal.

Source: Agence France Presse


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