Top Fatah Official Refuses to Meet With Hamas in Cairo

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A top Fatah official said Sunday that the moderate Palestinian group would not meet with the Hamas militant faction while in Cairo to discuss the security situation in the Palestinian territories with Egyptian officials.

Deputy Prime Minister Azzam al-Ahmed's comments came a little over a week after Fatah and Hamas reached a truce to stem fierce factional fighting that killed more than 50 Palestinians. Despite the agreement, tensions between the two groups remain high.

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Fatah's talks with the Egyptian government will focus on "restoring calmness in the Palestinian field, avoiding the return of conflict and fighting and supporting unity," said al-Ahmed in a Cairo press conference after meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa.

Egypt, a regional heavyweight and top U.S. ally, is a regular mediator in the Palestinian crisis and has been working to reconcile the Palestinian factions, whose infighting has further stalled negotiations for a peace agreement with Israel.

Also on Sunday, Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, said the group would send a delegation to Cairo in the next few days to speak with the Egyptians and confirmed there would be no meeting with Fatah. His statements were part of an interview published on a Web site affiliated with Hamas.

In the interview, Abu Marzouk also commented on recent Hamas rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israeli border towns, calling them "one of the means" the group uses to resist occupation by the Jewish state.

Israel staged an offensive Saturday aimed at halting Hamas rocket fire, firing missiles at several Hamas targets in Gaza. The attack came just hours after Gaza militants floated the idea of halting their rocket attacks if Israel ends its 10-day air campaign.

Abu Marzouk also promised a truce if Israel halted its reprisals, saying "the Palestinian factions then will be ready to stop the rockets on (Israel) and the Zionist military positions."

However, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised more attacks on Hamas on Sunday after a Palestinian rocket attack killed an Israeli man in southern Israel.

Complete coverage is available in's Mideast Center.