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Abbas, Mashaal: We agreed to work as partners

Nov. 24, 2011 3:08 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 26, 2011 11:37 A.M.)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal on Thursday said they had resolved all their differences, after a meeting in Cairo to implement a unity agreement.

"We want to assure our people and the Arab and Islamic world that we have turned a major new and real page in partnership on everything do to with the Palestinian nation," Mashaal said.

"There are no more differences between us now," added Abbas, who heads the Fatah movement.

The president said the talks had been comprehensive, covering "all details about reconciliation," according to the Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa.

"You will see all of this in the coming days and weeks," Abbas said.

Hamas politburo head Mashaal said: "Everyone should be confident and wait for developments on the ground, and not just words.

"The atmosphere is positive and we hope our people and all the factions will help us to achieve the best interest of our cause."

The two leaders of Palestine's top political factions were meeting for the first time since they signed a reconciliation deal in the Egyptian capital in May.

The agreement set out a path to a unity government of technocrats, to prepare for national elections within a year, but implementation had stalled in the intervening six months. The deal sought to end the rivalry that split Palestinians into separate administrations in 2007, with Hamas ruling the besieged Gaza Strip, and Fatah dominating the government in the West Bank.

Hamas and Fatah will meet again in Cairo on Dec. 15, officials said. During that meeting, Abbas and Mashaal are expected to finally set a date for holding elections.

Both leaders said Thursday's meeting was positive.

"We want very much to work as partners and we have a joint responsibility toward our people and cause," Abbas said.

Mashaal said the meeting had "opened a new page of a high level of understanding, concern for partnership and seriousness in implementing not only the terms of the reconciliation agreement, but all that has to do with organizing the Palestinian home and dealing with the present and future stages."

Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad and Hamas delegate Izzat al-Rishq said in a joint conference after the meeting that the leaders agreed to complete terms of the agreement related to freeing political detainees, creating a positive environment for elections, and promoting popular resistance against Israeli occupation and settlements.

Hamas leader Fawzi Barhoum told the satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera that the meeting had launched a new phase in the history of the Palestinian cause and people.
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