Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said earlier today that Russia will use a planned meeting with Hamas representatives to urge recognition of Israel and support for Middle East peace.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau said the French government believes the Russian move could help advance the peace process.
Israel responded angrily to the invitation, while the United States said it was asking Russia for clarification.
The United States and the European Union have listed Hamas as a terrorist group and banned all contact with its leaders unless they renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist. Hamas so far has rejected calls to change its positions.