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Hamas official in Cairo to discuss Palestinian reconciliation

CAIRO, November 3 (RIA Novosti) - A Hamas delegation arrived in Egypt on Monday for discussions on an Egyptian plan to resolve the Palestinian political crisis, the MENA news agency reported.

Hamas official Mahmud Zahar, a former Palestinian foreign minister, is due to meet with Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian intelligence chief who is leading Cairo's efforts to reconcile the two main Palestinian factions, the Fatah group of President Mahmoud Abbas and Islamist Hamas movement.

Hamas has a majority in the Palestinian parliament and seized control of the Gaza Strip last year, while Fatah, through Abbas, is the internationally recognized government and runs the West Bank.

Zahar is expected to raise issues Hamas has with the Egyptian plan, including extending the term of Abbas as president, which Cairo suggests to allow holding legislative and presidential elections at the same time. The president's term ends in January, while parliamentary polls are not due for another year.

Hamas also objects to being excluded from peace talks with Israel, and that one of the points of the Egyptian document would entail Palestinians giving up the right to armed resistance against Israeli occupation.

The two Palestinian sides, as well as several smaller groups, are due to come together in Cairo on November 9 to discuss a political settlement. Under the Egyptian plan, a single Palestinian government would be formed, presidential and parliamentary elections held, and the Palestinians' security services reformed.

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