Sunday, November 09, 2008
Mashaal: Ready to talk to Obama
Sky News quotes Hamas politiburo chief of calling for 'open-minded' dialogue, stressing that American administration must deal with them if it wants to deal with the region
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal reported his group is ready to dialogue with US President-Elect Barack Obama, according to an interview with Sky News on Saturday. The organization's politiburo chief met with the British news agency in Damascus.
"We are ready for dialogue with President Obama and with the new American administration with an open mind, on the basis that the American administration respects our rights and our options," Sky News quoted Mashaal as saying. "The American administration, if they want to deal with the region, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict, they have no other option than deal with Hamas because we are a real force on the ground, effective... And we are a movement that won a majority of votes in the election. Second of all, it's not right that Hamas poses any danger to anyone," he said in his interview.
According to the British news agency, Mashaal expressed optimism now that Obama had been elected, saying that "there is no doubt that the recent American election is a big change when you get an American president with African roots... It's a big change - political and psychological - and it is noteworthy."
Dialogue across the region
A day earlier, Syrian President Bashar Assad also called for dialogue, as he congratulated Obama on his election a mere two weeks after U.S. planes raided Syria.
The state news agency said Assad sent a congratulatory telegram to Obama "expressing hope that dialogue would prevail to overcome the difficulties that have hindered real progress toward peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East".
Syrian officials say privately that under Obama they expect change in what they see as Washington's hardline policy toward Syria and support for peace talks between Syria and Israel.
AP contributed to this report