Denmark, Sweden urge Hamas to ground arms

The Danish and Swedish foreign ministers on Thursday called on Hamas to give up arms after the Islamic militants' apparent election victory. "It is a surprise election result. No one had expected they would get an absolute majority, if that is the outcome," said Per Stig Moeller, Denmark's foreign minister.

"Hamas must stop the terror, they must put down the arms, they must accept a negotiated solution before the rest of the world can include them in the peace process," Moeller said.

Israel, the United States and the European Union have said they would not deal with a government led by Hamas, which they all brand terrorist group.

"We must respect the election result, although it was not the outcome we had wished," Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds said the EU will not be able to cooperate with Hamas unless it changes its policies.

"It is not possible for the EU to cooperate with a regime that does not dissociate itself from using violence and does not acknowledge Israel's right to exist," Freivalds told Swedish Radio.

The Palestinian vote may be an expression of discontent with the sitting government, and not just a show of support for Hamas, Freivalds said.

"I think such a widespread vote for Hamas is a protest against those in power who have not done enough, a reaction to the incapacity to lead the political process forward," Freivalds said, reports the AP.


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