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Egypt FM: Hamas 'not opening bureau in Cairo'

Sept. 21, 2012 1:26 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 24, 2012 8:40 P.M.)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamel Amr said Thursday that Hamas had not opened a bureau in Cairo, Egyptian media reported.

Amro told the Al-Ahram daily that Hamas officials were welcome in Cairo as visitors, but denied reports the party had opened an office there.

Turkish state media reported Thursday that Hamas had permanently closed its politburo in Damascus and moved its staff to Cairo.

A Hamas official told the Anadolu Agency that Hamas officials in Syria would begin working in Cairo from October.

The official said Egypt gave Hamas permission to relocate to Cairo six months ago but the offer was not publicized "perhaps due to a request by the Egyptian government or due to expectations on the end of crisis in Syria."

Hamas leaders were due to end a visit to Cairo on Friday after meetings with Egyptian officials.

Assad allowed Hamas to relocate to Damascus after it was ousted from Jordan in 1999, and the party is said to have significant assets in Syria.

The party had been reluctant to criticize its ally, who is supported by Hamas' financial backer Iran.

In Cairo in February, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh publicly condemned Assad's brutal crackdown of the uprising challenging his rule, although other party leaders said Haniyeh's comments did not reflect the movement's position.

In August, the party's representative to Yemen Abdul Muti Zaqqut told Ma'an that the movement's politburo in Damascus remained open but said some party leaders had left Syria.

Politburo Khalid Mashaal relocated to Qatar amid Assad's bloody crackdown against an uprising that started in March 2011.

Palestinian refugees in Syria have been increasingly targeted by Assad's forces. At least 18 Palestinians were killed on Thursday in Yarmouk, the largest Palestinian camp in Syria, PLO officials said.
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