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Palestinian rivals hold unity talks in Qatar

- Associated Press - Sunday, February 5, 2012

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The Palestinian president and the head of rival Hamas resumed talks Sunday over efforts to move along a reconciliation pact that remains stalled after nearly a year.

Qatar's emir and other officials joined the meetings in apparent efforts to push the unity accord forward between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah and Khaled Mashaal, leader of the Islamist Hamas.

A senior Abbas aide, Azzam al-Ahmed, described the dialogue as "positive" but said further discussions were needed with other Palestinians factions over key issues such as elections and forming a transitional unity government.

The delays suggest neither side is yet ready to embrace the pact reached last year. It seeks to end more than four years of separate governments in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and the West Bank, which is ruled by Mr. Abbas' Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

"I'm sure there will be an agreement, but we still have to continue consultations with other Palestinians factions," Mr. al-Ahmed told reporters.

He said further talks were set for later Sunday in Qatar's capital, Doha.

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