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Hamas Delegation Arrives In Moscow

Hamas has resisted international pressure to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel (epa) March 3, 2006 -- A delegation from the Palestinian militant group Hamas has arrived in the Russian capital Moscow for high-level talks today.

A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said the visit was a defeat to U.S.-led efforts to isolate Hamas since it swept Palestinian elections in January. Zuhri said it meant Hamas "is on the threshold of international legitimacy."

The United States and European Union consider Hamas a terrorist organization. Moscow does not.

Russia's special Middle East envoy, Aleksandr Kalugin, said the aim of the talks was not to dictate conditions to Hamas but to use persuasion.

The U.S. State Department said Moscow must pressure Hamas to renounce violence and recognize Israel.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry echoed those demands, adding that Hamas must accept past agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, as urged by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

(AP, Reuters, ITAR-TASS)

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