Japan appeals for world community to bring Hamas into peace process

Japan called for the international community to bring Hamas into the Middle East peace process, following the Islamic militant group's sweeping victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections. "We must make efforts so that Hamas will adopt a proactive attitude toward the peace process," Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told reporters.

"It is important that Japan and the international community work with both Palestine and Israel so that the peace process based on the roadmap will not be delayed," he said. Japan intends to continue playing an active role toward achieving Middle East peace, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

The Japanese government planned to closely watch to see what posture the newly formed Palestinian government would take toward issues such as the peace process, terrorism, and relations with Israel, Abe said. Japan dispatched a team to help monitor the Jan. 25 elections and also provided about US$720,000 (Ђ589,000) to assist in carrying out the vote, the Foreign Ministry statement said.

Hamas swept 76 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian parliament, giving it a clear majority and allowing it to rule without Fatah, the dominent force in Palestinian politics for four decades, which won just 43 seats, reports the AP. I.L.

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