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Hamas Plans Moscow Visit Despite Downgraded Ties

Hamas leader Khalid Mish'al (file photo) (Fars) August 1, 2007 -- The radical Palestinian movement Hamas says a delegation headed by its leader, Khalid Mish'al, has been invited to hold talks in Moscow.

The announcement comes one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin gave Mish'al's rival, Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas, Russia's support as the "legitimate" Palestinian leader.

Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov also said on July 31 that Moscow has downgraded its ties with Hamas. Russia's Foreign Ministry today said it has no information on an upcoming visit by Hamas.

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June, deepening the group's feud with Abbas's ruling Fatah party.

Russia is the only member of the Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators to have maintained political contacts with Hamas since the Gaza takeover.