The White House said Monday it opposes former president Jimmy Carter's plan to meet with the leader of Hamas during his trip to the Middle East this week. ( dpa )
Carter arrived in Israel on Sunday to a chilly reception from the Israeli government over his intention of meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal when he visits Syria later in the week.
President George W Bush's administration lists Hamas as a terrorist organization and refuses to hold discussions with the militant group on the peace process.
Carter "is not representing the United States in those meetings and the president is not a supporter with having conversations with Hamas," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
Perino said Carter's plans are not helpful toward the administration's effort to isolate Hamas because of its continued attacks on Israelis and its refusal to recognize the Jewish state.
"I think Hamas has done a good enough job of isolating himself," Perino said. "But we don't think that (the meeting is) helpful."
Carter visited the Israeli town of Sderot in the southern part of the country and near the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas. The city regularly falls victim to rocket attacks from Gaza.
Carter called the rocket attacks a "despicable crime" and met with the mayor of the town. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would not meet with Carter, who wants to talks to Hamas in an effort to broker a ceasefire.
Israelis have also been unhappy with Carter because of a book he wrote two years ago criticizing the Israeli government policies in Palestinian territories.
On Tuesday the 83-year-old Nobel Peace Laureate is scheduled to have meetings in Ramallah with Palestinian leaders. His Middle East swing takes him also to Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan.