(dpa) - Hamas is trying to scuttle peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, US Vice President Dick Cheney said in Jerusalem Monday.
Speaking after meeting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Cheney said there was evidence that Iran and Syria were aiding the Islamist organization in its attempts to foil the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which only got underway in December after a seven-year hiatus.
Hamas, which rejects Israel's right to exist, has slammed the peace talks, and accused President Mahmoud Abbas of betraying Palestinian principles.
Cheney arrived in Jerusalem Saturday night, the penultimate stop on a nine-day regional tour which took him to Iraq, Afghanistan, Oman and Saudi Arabia, and will seem him depart later Monday for Turkey.
He held talks with Olmert, President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defence Minister Barak, during which he focused on Iran's nuclear programme, which Israel sees as its prime existential threat.
Cheney also said the US wanted to see a resolution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict "that has caused so much grief to Israelis" and wanted to see "a new beginning for the Palestinian people."
He said in Ramallah on Sunday after meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad that the establishment of a Palestinian state requires "more efforts and painful concessions from both sides."