November 13, 2006 in Nation/World

Hamas agrees to Arab-backed talks

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

CAIRO, Egypt – The Hamas-led Palestinian government agreed Sunday to an international peace conference with Israel after the Arab League – angered by Israel’s military offensive in Gaza – voted to end a financial blockade on the Palestinians.

Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar of Hamas endorsed a statement by Arab foreign ministers calling for the peace conference during a meeting in Cairo to respond to a U.S. veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the Gaza offensive.

Israel responded by saying it would not hold talks with Hamas unless it agreed to demands backed by the U.S. and Europe that the group recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by existing agreements.

Zahar said the Palestinians had asked for the peace conference “in order to reach just and comprehensive solutions.” The acceptance marked the first time the Hamas-led government has indicated it would consider making amends with the Jewish state.

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