Former U.S. president to visit Gaza: reports
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will visit the Gaza Strip to deliver a message from President Barack Obama to Hamas rulers, a Palestinian daily reported Thursday.
Al-Ayyam newspaper said that Carter, who previously held several talks with the Islamic movement, will arrive in the Hamas- controlled enclave on June 15, Xinhua reported.
The Islamic movement, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization, has neither denied nor confirmed the reports, but sources from the Hamas government said future visits to Gaza by American officials "were possible."
Yousef Rizka, an advisor to Hamas's premier Ismail Haneya, told Xinhua that his administration "welcomes American and European officials in Gaza." The Hamas government did not have certain date for Carter's visit, according to Rizka.
In January 2005, Carter led a team of international observers to monitor the Palestinian parliamentary elections which Hamas won a land-slide victory. Later, the U.S. led a world campaign to isolate Hamas for refusing to recognize Israel and abide by peace.
In previous months, Carter held several talks with Hamas officials in Cairo and Damascus, including the Islamic movement's chief Khaled Mashaal.
But the sources say contacts between Hamas and U.S. officials increased after Obama's administration took office.