Lavrov, Meshaal talk

The Russian foreign minister spoke with the exiled leader of Hamas.

Sergei Lavrov spoke with Khaled Meshaal Thursday despite an international ban on dealing with the terrorist group, reinforced by Hamas’ routing last month from the Gaza Strip of forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the relatively moderate Palestinian Authority president.

The Russian foreign ministry said Meshaal said Hamas was ready to commit to unity with Abbas’ Fatah movement. “During the conversation Meshaal underlined that that there are no hindrances to cooperation between Fatah and Hamas in creating a Palestinian state,” the statement said. “Hamas strongly stands for the unity of the Palestinian people under the leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.”

Meshaal is seen as a hard-liner resisting any accommodation with Israel, and has frustrated attempts by Hamas in Gaza to exchange a captive Israeli soldier for Hamas prisoners or to renew a ceasefire.

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