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Zahhar thanks Iran for supporting Palestinians

March 16, 2012 3:33 P.M. (Updated: March 18, 2012 1:11 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahhar on Thursday thanked Iran for its "unlimited" support to Palestinians.

Speaking at a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran, Zahhar said Iran supported Palestine without expecting anything in return, reports said.

Both Zahhar and Salehi agreed that popular uprisings across the region would benefit Palestinians, the Islamic Republic News Agency quoted them as saying.

Salehi referred to an "Islamic awakening" and said regional developments were weakening Zionism. The minister pledged that Iran's support to Palestinians would continue.

Zahhar has made conflicting statements about the role Hamas would play if Israel attacked Iran.

Speaking to the BBC for a report published March 7, Zahhar said Hamas would respond to Israeli attacks on Gaza but would not get involved "in any other regional conflict."

He added: "We are not part of any political axis."

Zahhar told the BBC that Hamas lacked the power to respond from a territory that is still under siege, occupied and recovering from previous Israeli offensives.

He later disavowed the comments in an interview with the Iranian Fars news agency and said Hamas would respond to Israel and its allies in the event of an attack on Iran.

"Retaliation with utmost power is the position of Hamas with regard to a Zionist war on Iran," he said.

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