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Haniyeh congratulates Abbas on Fatah anniversary

Jan. 4, 2013 9:35 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 6, 2013 9:28 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh called President Abbas on Friday to congratulate him on the occasion of Fatah's 48th anniversary, a statement by Hamas said.

Haniyeh reiterated to Abbas that the Islamist movement believes in political diversity and is working towards national reconciliation.

Abbas in turn thanked the Gaza premier for allowing his Fatah movement to celebrate its 48th anniversary in Gaza, expressing willingness to begin a new phase of cooperation and good relations.

"The Gaza government has closely followed up with the Fatah anniversary festival, playing a positive role to make the festival a success," Gaza government spokesman Taher al-Nunu said.

The celebrations mark the first time that Hamas has allowed Fatah to hold such events since it took power in 2007, with both factions acknowledging a more positive environment for political reconciliation.

Fatah also permitted a Hamas anniversary rally in the West Bank in December for the first time, raising hopes of improving relations between the rival factions.

"The success of the rally is a success for Fatah, and for Hamas too," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.

"The positive atmosphere is a step on the way to regain national unity."

An Egyptian official told Reuters that Cairo was preparing to invite the factions for new negotiations within two weeks, with the country having already played a crucial role in bringing both sides together in 2011 to sign the reconciliation deal.

Reuters contributed to this report
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