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Moscow Will Not Confirm Hamas Invite

The Russian government has refused to confirm a newspaper report that a senior Hamas leader had been invited to Moscow.

Al-Hayat’s London edition reported last week that the parliamentary speaker of the Hamas government, Ahmad Bahar, had received invitations to Moscow and to the European Parliament in Brussels for early 2009, according to NewsRu, a Russian-language Israeli news site.

Russia in the past has refused to recognize the Hamas government, and the group is on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations. Nevertheless, Hamas representatives have visited Moscow officially twice in recent years for consultations with the Russian foreign ministry, the site reported.

There was no word of the visit on the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Information Center Web site.

In a statement Nov. 5, the Russian foreign ministry expressed its “grave concern” over the situation on the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip. Israel on Nov. 4 killed six Palestinians in an army operation to blow up a tunnel constructed to help Hamas kidnap soldiers, and the Palestinians have responded by firing dozens of rockets into southern Israel.

“We must not endanger the lives and security of either Israelis or Palestinians,” the statement said. “A recurrence of violence risks undermining the existing ‘calm’ around Gaza.”

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