Hamas leader ready to talk to Obama

Other News Materials 9 November 2008 10:10 (UTC +04:00)

Hamas is ready to talk to U.S. President-elect Barack Obama but he must respect the Islamic resistance movment's "rights and options," its leader Khaled Meshaal said in an interview Saturday, TehranTimes reported.

"It's a big change -- political and psychological -- and it is noteworthy and I congratulate President Obama," Meshaal said in the interview with Sky News website from the Syrian capital Damascus.

"But as a result of the election and the change, he should know he has duties to the United States and in the whole world and in hotspots, especially in the Middle East."

"...we are ready for dialogue with President Obama and with the new American administration with an open mind, on the basis that the American administration respects our rights and our options," Meshaal told Sky.

He said the new U.S. administration would have no choice but to deal with Hamas if it was going to help resolve problems in the region.

"The American administration, if they want to deal with the region, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict, they have no other option than deal with Hamas because we are a real force on the ground, effective," he said.

"And we are a movement that won a majority of votes in the election. Second of all, it's not right that Hamas poses any danger to anyone."

Hamas won a 2006 parliamentary election.

Obama had dismayed Palestinian leaders the previous month when he said Jerusalem (Beit-ul-Moqaddas) should be Israel's "undivided" capital.

Palestinians want Arab East Jerusalem (Beit-ul-Moqaddas), captured by Israel in 1967, as the capital of a future state. Obama later said he used "poor phrasing" when he made the remarks.

Hamas leaders have offered a long-term truce with Israel in return for a viable Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.