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Israeli PM Criticizes Russia's Invitation To Hamas --> Russian Foreign Minsiter Sergei Lavrov (right) with Hamas leader Khalid Mish'al in Moscow on March 3. (epa) March 5, 2006 -- Acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has criticized Russia for holding talks with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

In a March 5 phone call, Olmert told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the talks would only encourage Hamas not to renounce violence or to recognize the state of Israel.

Three days of talks in Moscow between Hamas's political leadership and the Russian Foreign Ministry ended on March 5 without any sign of a breakthrough in getting Hamas to change its platform.

The Kremlin said Putin also called U.S. President George W. Bush to update him on the discussions.

Hamas won a majority of seats in January's Palestinian legislative elections and is in the process of forming a new government. Officials of the Fatah party of Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas said on March 5 that the party was unlikely to join the new government.

(AP, Reuters, AFP)

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