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Russia To Urge Hamas To Recognize Israel

Israel has rejected any contact with Hamas (epa) 12 February 2006 -- Russia has again said it will press Hamas to recognize Israel and to reject terrorism when members of the militant group visit Moscow.

Russia's special envoy to the Middle East, Aleksandr Kalugin, made the comment today following talks with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.

Last on 9 February, President Vladimir Putin said he would invite Hamas leaders for discussions, following their victory in Palestinian legislative elections. Russian and Hamas officials say the talks could take place before the end of the month.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said today the invitation is "misplaced" and "superfluous."

The new Palestinian parliament is to be sworn in on 16 February and Hamas expects to form a new cabinet within weeks.


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