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Senegal says first round of Palestinian talks 'direct and fraternal'

Senegal says first round of Palestinian talks 'direct and fraternal'

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah achieved a "direct and fraternal" discussion during two days of talks brokered by Senegal's president, the government of the West African country said.
In a statement released late Saturday, the office of Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade called the talks a "dialogue aimed at leveling divergences and reconciling the Palestinian family."
The deep rift between the two groups goes back to nearly a year ago when Hamas ousted the forces of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbad and took control of the Gaza Strip.
The meeting between Hamas representative Emad Khalid Alamy and Fatah's Hikmat Zeid _ the Palestinian ambassador to Senegal _ was the first round of what Senegal's government says is a planned seven rounds of talks.
Senegal's president pledged at a March summit of Islamic states held in the country's capital that he would undertake to mediate between the groups.
However, it is unclear if Wade has been fully embraced as a mediator. A Hamas official involved in negotiation efforts has said they would like either Egypt or the Cairo-based Arab League to agree to act as mediators.
Even so, a statement issued by Senegal and signed by both Alamy and Zeid suggested an amicable meeting.
"The Palestinian emissaries, after a direct and fraternal dialogue, thanked the facilitator for having succeeded at establishing an atmosphere of confidence and mutual respect between them concerning the fundamental interests of the Palestinian people," the statement said.
A spokeswoman for Senegal's presidency, Fat Tending, said the Hamas and Fatah representatives left Saturday night.
Fatah has publicly played down the Senegal talks, even though Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has spoken recently of trying to mend relations with rival group Hamas.
An Abbas spokesman and Zeid both released statements on Saturday saying was he was sent to Senegal to represent the Palestinian Authority at the Islamic Summit, specifically skirting the issue of talks with Hamas.
Sami Khater of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus, Syria, confirmed the talks, but did not say what was discussed.
A Hamas official in Damascus said the talks aimed to "restore dialogue, rebuild confidence and mutual respect" between the two sides.
"No agreement or understanding has so far been reached between the two sides," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. He added that the two sides have agreed to continue the dialogue.
Meanwhile, a Damascus-based radical Palestinian faction criticized the Hamas-Fatah talks in Senegal as a "retraction" of Abbas' call for comprehensive Palestinian national dialogue.
"The Hamas-Fatah meetings in Dakar increase inter-Palestinian divisions," the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said in a statement Sunday. "The policy of bilateral deals is a retraction of the Palestinian Authority's call for comprehensive dialogue."
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Associated Press writers Diaa Hadid in Ramallah, and Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-05-15 13:36 GMT+08:00