Egyptian intelligence chief in Damascus to meet with Hamas leaders

Egypt's intelligence chief, a veteran mediator among the Palestinians, visited Damascus to meet with Hamas leaders Tuesday, part of an Arab diplomatic push to contain the fallout from Hamas' landslide victory in Palestinian elections. Hamas is looking for Egypt's help in persuading Palestinan leader Mahmoud Abbas to bring his Fatah party into a Palestinian unity government with the radical movement, Hamas officials have said.

Abbas met in Jordan with King Abdullah II on Tuesday and was heading next to Cairo to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak the following day.

Hamas official Osama Hamdan said the Damascus-based head of Hamas' political bureau, Khaled Mashaal, will meet Abbas in Cairo, but in a future trip, not during Abbas' visit Wednesday.

Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman went to the Syrian capital on Tuesday and will meet with the Hamas leadership there, an Egyptian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the visit. Suleiman will listen to Hamas' plans and explore what role Egypt can play, the official said. The intelligence chief has long been Mubarak's point man in mediation between Fatah and Palestinian radical groups. A year ago, he played a major role in a conference of Palestinian factions in Cairo that nailed down a ceasefire by Hamas and other militants, reports the AP. I.L.

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