Egypt to invite Palestinian factions to dialogue, says Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday Egypt agreed to sponsor a meeting on an inter-Palestinian reconciliation while continuing its efforts to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Speaking after talks with Egyptian leaders in Cairo, Abbas said Egypt agreed to initiate from Sunday efforts aiming at achieving reconciliation among Palestinian factions and to invite all of them to a national dialogue, the dpa reported.
Reconciliation efforts will be in tandem with Egypt's mediation between Israel and the radical Palestinian group Hamas for the release of Shalit in exchange for freeing Palestinian prisoners, Abbas said.
The Palestinian leader said he regretted a fresh outbreak of violence in the Gaza Strip.
"What happened in Gaza is extremely regretful and painful to us and to our people. We don't accept it. Neither do we accept accusations and claims made directly by Hamas blaming Fatah and its members of the Gaza blasts," Abbas said.
Violence in Gaza erupted overnight following a Hamas crackdown on rival factions suspected of carrying out a bomb attack on Friday, which claimed the lives of five Hamas members and a five-year-old girl.
Hamas blamed the attack on members of Abbas' Fatah movement, which it ousted from the territory in June 2007 after deadly clashes.
"We call for a committee made up of independent Palestinians to investigate the matter and come to conclusions on the perpetrators of the attack. We will accept the outcome of the inquiry," Abbas said.
Commenting on a round of Palestinian-Israeli talks to be held in Washington this week, Abbas said as long as there was hope, negotiations should continue despite key obstacles, such as Israel's building of settlements. dpa str sf ds