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Abbas, Mashaal hold first talks since unity deal

May 5, 2014 10:55 A.M. (Updated: May 19, 2014 12:48 P.M.)
DOHA (AFP) - President Mahmoud Abbas held "positive" talks with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal in Doha Monday in the first meeting since their rival movements signed a surprise unity deal last month.

The meeting began shortly after Abbas held talks with Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, a senior Palestinian official told AFP in Ramallah.

"Abbas and Mashaal held a long meeting this afternoon in Doha to discuss the latest Palestinian developments, including the reconciliation agreement and creating a positive atmosphere in which to achieve it," a Hamas statement said.

"The meeting was positive, with both leaders expressing a serious willingness to turn over a new leaf, based on national partnership," it added.

The exiled Hamas chief has been based in Doha for more than two years after leaving his previous base in Damascus because of the Syrian civil war.

The last time the two leaders met face-to-face was in Cairo in January 2013.

Abbas's Fatah movement, which dominates the PLO, has been locked in years of bitter rivalry with Mashaal's Hamas since the Islamist movement took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 after winning elections a year earlier.

Earlier reconciliation efforts have failed, but on April 23, the PLO and Hamas announced a deal under which they would work together to form a new government of political independents.

Hamas said it might incorporate some 3,000 members of the Palestinian Authority's security forces to help police Gaza on a temporary basis.

"There is a clause addressing the security situation, including... administrative arrangements for 3,000 members of Ramallah's security apparatus to work as part of Gaza security," Hamas government secretary Abd al-Salam Siyyam said in a statement on Sunday.

He said the move would be for an "interim period," without saying how long it would be.
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