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Hamas Praises Putin For Continued Support --> President Putin said the world cannot cut the Palestinians off (file photo) (epa) 1 February 2006 -- A Hamas spokesman today hailed Vladimir Putin after the Russian president said the world must continue to provide aid to the Palestinians.

Major players in the international peace process had threatened to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority unless Hamas renounces violence and recognizes Israel's right to exist.

Speaking at a press conference in Cairo today, Palestinians Authority President Mahmud Abbas said the Quartet Committee -- including the European Union, the United Nations, the United States, and Russia -- will continue to give aid to the Palestinians, not a specific party.

“The Quartet agreed to continue aiding the Palestinian people because this aid is not to help a specific side or party,” Abbas said. “So they must deal separately with the fact that the people need aid and help for economic projects. The whole world must continue this aid. The issue of whether Hamas rules the next government that comes in, or others do -- this is an issue that can be discussed in the coming two or three months."

Egypt's intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, was quoted as saying that Abbas will ask Hamas to form a government only if it renounces violence and recognizes Israel.