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U.S. suspends contacts with Hamas-led government

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    Last update - 07:52 01/04/2006 U.S. suspends contacts with Hamas-led government By News Agencies http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/701166.html The United
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1 1:07 AM
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      Last update - 07:52 01/04/2006

      U.S. suspends contacts with Hamas-led government

      By News Agencies

      http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/701166.html
      The United States on Friday announced a new policy on contacts with
      Palestinians that bars dealings with officials of Palestinian government
      agencies that are controlled by Hamas.

      U.S. contacts with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his staff
      will continue.

      The Bush administration had made clear in advance that it would have no
      dealings with Hamas cabinet ministers because of the organization's refusal to
      accept Israel's right to exist and embrace international terms for Middle East
      peace-making.


      "We've advised our mission in Jerusalem, as well as other missions around the
      world that ... there should be no contact between U.S. government officials
      and PA officials who are under the authority of the prime minister or any
      other minister in the Hamas-led government. This includes working-level
      officials in those ministries," deputy State Department spokesman Adam Ereli
      told reporters on Friday.

      "If they're working in a Hamas-led ministry, no matter what their affiliation
      is, we're not going to have contact with them," Ereli said.

      The Palestinian cabinet headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and
      endorsed by the Palestinian legislature Tuesday is made up entirely of Hamas
      members and independents allied to the militant Islamic organization.

      While that rules out U.S. contact with the Haniyeh government, Ereli said
      American diplomats may still deal with PA Chairman Abbas, his staff, and
      officials in agencies directly under his authority, including the PA's
      representative in Washington, Afief Safieh, because "he does not report to the
      foreign ministry", Ereli said.

      "We will work with individuals and organizations who are not affiliated with
      Hamas," he said. "There are a lot of people we can speak to now," Ereli said.

      Quartet envoys to meet in Amman to discuss PA aid

      The new policy was announced as two senior U.S. envoys continued contacts in
      the region on the situation following the seating of the Palestinian cabinet
      and Tuesday's Israeli elections.

      White House Middle East policy chief Elliott Abrams and Assistant Secretary of
      State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch have held talks with, among others,
      Prime Minister-elect Ehud Olmert and former Palestinian cabinet member Saeb
      Erekat.

      The two envoys are to attend an expert-level meeting in Amman Sunday of the
      international Middle East "Quartet," which also includes Russia, the European
      Union and the United Nations.

      The Quartet issued a statement Thursday noting "with grave concern" that Hamas
      had not heeded its appeal of last January 30 to commit to principles of
      non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous Palestinian
      agreements and obligations including the Quartet's 2003 peace "road map."

      Spokesman Ereli said the meeting in the Jordanian capital would examine ways
      the Quartet can continue efforts toward a two-state settlement of the conflict
      given the "new reality" on the ground.

      He also said they would discuss how to continue humanitarian aid to the
      Palestinians while by-passing Hamas-controlled ministries.

      The Bush administration says the assumption of power by Hamas, a group listed
      by the United States as a terrorist organization, means the end of direct U.S.
      support for the Palestinian Authority.

      But it says it intends to increase humanitarian aid, which has traditionally
      been channeled through the UN and non-governmental groups.
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