Rival Palestinian leaders Abbas, Mashaal hold rare talks in Doha to advance reconciliation

A spokesman says Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have held a rare meeting and agreed to move forward with a reconciliation deal between their rival movements.

The Palestinian split goes back to 2007 when the Islamic militant Hamas seized Gaza from the Western-backed Abbas, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank. The split weakened Abbas' position in peace talks with Israel.

When the latest round of those negotiations ended last week, Hamas and Abbas made another attempt to reconcile, saying they planned to form a unity government by May and hold elections by 2015.

Hamas spokesman Hussam Bardan said Monday that Abbas and the Doha-based Mashaal "agreed to go ahead with implementing the recent agreement."

Abbas was in Doha for a grandson's college graduation.