Hamas leader in Beirut for talks

Other News Materials 3 November 2008 15:42 (UTC +04:00)

The leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas met Monday with Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and Premier Fouad Seniora, reported dpa.

Syria-based Khaled Mashaal said he "told both Lebanese officials that the internal Palestinian situation was good and affirmed that Hamas supported Lebanese reconciliation."

He added that his movement considered all Lebanese parties equal and that Hamas was against a permanent Palestinian settlement in Lebanon, but also against Palestinians being displaced.

"The issue of weapons inside and outside Palestinian refugee camps can only be solved through dialogue between Palestinians and Lebanese people," he said, adding that Hamas will follow up this matter and will make efforts to resolve it.

It was the first known trip to Beirut by Mashaal since Israeli warplanes destroyed his faction's office in the Lebanese capital during the 2006 war with Hezbollah.

Mashaal's movements are generally kept secret because of assassination fears.

The Hamas leader was due to meet with Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah later Monday.

On and off clashes between Hamas and the other major Palestinian faction, Fatah, which increased the tension inside the Palestinian camps where some 367,000 refugees are living.

Security inside the camps is in the hands of Palestinian factions, but the Lebanese army maintains checkpoints at the entrance of each camp to monitor movements in and out of the shantytowns.