- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 26, 2009


Meshaal praises Obama’s new tone

Hamas‘ exiled political chief Khaled Meshaal praised the “new tone” by U.S. President Barack Obama toward the Middle East, saying it is a prelude for real change in U.S. and European foreign policy. In an interview with an Italian newspaper published Sunday, the Damascus-based Meshaal said he believed it was “just a matter of time” before Europe and the United States, which regard Hamas a “terrorist” organization, would open official channels with his group.

His remarks came after a top U.S. envoy in Damascus said this month that Syria can be an important and constructive force in the Middle East, as Washington seeks a new “inclusive” policy that entails the entire region’s countries, including those it considered its enemy.


Prisoner negotiations expected to resume

Palestinian sources expected indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas for a prisoner exchange to resume in Cairo in the next few days, depending on Washington’s position over a swap deal and the Palestinian national reconciliation talks.

The sources predict a prisoner swap deal can be reached if there is a positive position toward the Palestinian dialogue, especially regarding the formation of a unity government as agreed by the Palestinian factions, not a technocrat Cabinet as sought by the U.S. administration.


Lieberman appointment worries Egyptians

The office of Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said officials close to him have met Egyptian counterparts to assure them over the possible appointment of hardline nationalist leader Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister.

Lieberman, head of Yisrael Beitenu party, had angered Cairo last October when he said that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak can “go to hell” for refusing to make an official visit to Israel.


Britain refuses Israeli request

The British judiciary has refused to amend its laws, which allow British citizens to file charges against war crime suspects, to accommodate an Israeli request not to arrest their suspects when they arrive on British soil.

The Israeli army commander of the southern region was taken by surprise in 2005 when he discovered an arrest warrant was issued for him on war crime charges in Gaza upon his plane’s landing in London, which forced him to stay on the aircraft and return to Israel to avoid arrest.


Allawi party wants Iranian fighters out

The Iraqi National Accord, headed by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, has asked the Baghdad government to give political asylum to the Iranian opposition Mojahedin-e-Khalq organization for humanitarian reasons.

The group called on the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to intervene with the government to prevent measures that could threaten the lives and safety of Ashraf camp residents, where the organization is based.

Compiled by Sana Abdallah of the Middle East Times

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