Sunday, April 13, 2008
"13/04/2008 Former US president Jimmy Carter on Sunday defended his plan to meet with Hamas leaders during an upcoming trip to the Middle East, amid criticism from Washington and Israel.
Carter, who reportedly plans to meet exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Syria, said he viewed Hamas's inclusion in “peace talks” as "very important" and stressed he was not traveling as an official US negotiator.
"It's very important that at least someone meet with the Hamas leaders to express their views, to ascertain what flexibility they have, to try to induce them to stop all attacks against innocent civilians in Israel and to cooperate with the Fatah as a group that unites the Palestinians," Carter told ABC news.
"There's no doubt in anyone's mind that, if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their next-door neighbors, the Palestinians, that Hamas will have to be included in the process," he said in the interview, which was pre-recorded and aired on Sunday. "I think someone should be meeting with Hamas to see what we can do to encourage them to be cooperative and to find out what their attitude."......."