Hamas willing to talk to Blair


Hamas said it would talk with Tony Blair, who is making his first visit to the region in his new role as the Quartet’s Middle East envoy.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Monday that the Islamist group would be willing to talk to the envoy of the coalition promoting Middle East peace – the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations – but not to Israel. Israel, the United States and the European Union consider Hamas a terrorist group.

“We won’t say no to anyone, including Tony Blair,” Zuhri told the London Times. “We are willing to maintain ties with anyone as long as it isn’t the occupier.”

Blair, on his first visit to the region this week since taking his new post following his resignation as British prime minister, will meet Monday with Israeli officials in Jerusalem. On Tuesday he will meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and members of Abbas’ emergency government, established after Hamas’ violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last month.

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