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Hamas says held Cairo talks, may consider new truce

By Reuters

Hamas said on Friday it had met a Palestinian

delegation in Cairo in recent days and was ready

to discuss any idea - including a new truce - to

stop what it called Israeli aggression against


"A delegation from Hamas

recently visited Egypt because

there was a real Egyptian

concern about possible

consequences of what is going

on now in Palestine, especially

since the truce collapsed," a

senior member of the Hamas

delegation, Osama Hamdan, told


Asked whether Hamas was ready to discuss a new

truce, Hamdan said: "I can say clearly we are

ready to study any idea that will stop the

Israeli aggression against the Palestinian

people whatever the idea was, whatever it was

entitled or wherever it came from."

Hamas and another Palestinian militant group,

Islamic Jihad, scrapped a seven-week-old truce

in mid-August after Israel assassinated a top

Hamas leader following a suicide bombing in

Jerusalem that killed 21 people, which came

after an earlier killing of a Hamas militant.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad have both called for the

destruction of the Jewish state.

Egypt brokered the now-defunct truce in June.

"The aim of the visit was to consult (the

Egyptians) on ways to...stop the Israeli

aggression against the Palestinian people,

which includes assassinations or arrests," said

Hamdan, who is Hamas's representative in


He said the visit coincided with one by

Palestinian Authority officials and the Hamas

delegation met Palestinian Culture Minister

Ziad Abu Amr.

"The truce was not proposed directly, but the

Palestinian delegation did propose calm and we

said clearly that the movement already offered

a chance for calm but the (Israeli)

occupation destroyed it."

He described the meeting as "an exchange of


He said no practical steps had been agreed on

and no date for another meeting had been set,

but that they would meet again.

Hamas, under relentless Israeli air strikes that

have driven leaders underground, is facing its

worst crisis with threats of instant

assassination from the sky, loss of funding at

home and abroad and a showdown with a reformist

Palestinian Authority committed to a

U.S.-backed peace plan.

Israel has killed 11 Hamas members and four

bystanders in helicopter missile strikes in the

Gaza Strip since the aborted truce started on

June 29.

A senior Israeli military source has said

Israeli would consider halting air strikes only

if Hamas declared it was "giving up totally the

tool of violence and its infrastructure".

A ceasefire is widely considered crucial to a

U.S.-backed "road map" to peace which outlines

reciprocal steps to end three years of violence

since Palestinians began an uprising against

Israeli occupation, and to establish a

Palestinian state

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