Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Carter to meet Hamas official in Ramallah, lays wreath on Arafat's grave

"Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said he'll meet with a Hamas leader at a West Bank reception Tuesday, a sign he has not been cowed by criticism of his plans to meet with the militant Palestinian group.

During his time in Ramallah on Tuesday, the former U.S. president visited the grave of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, where he laid a wreath.

Carter added that he sought permission to enter the Islamist-ruled Gaza Strip as well but was turned down. Carter did not single out Israel by name for having turned down his request to visit Gaza however all of the border crossings between Israel and Gaza are controlled by Israel.

Nasser al-Shaer has been invited to a reception in the West Bank town of Ramallah along with other prominent Palestinians, officials close to Hamas said Tuesday.

Shaer is a leading Hamas member from the West Bank who served as deputy prime minister in the Palestinian coalition government that disintegrated last summer after Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip.

Asked by The Associated Press if he would meet Shaer on Tuesday, Carter replied, Yes.....

Carter said he had requested permission to enter Gaza from Israel, but Israel turned him down. He might meet with other Hamas leaders while visiting Syria, he said.

Israel's top leaders, in a stinging rebuff, have avoided meeting Carter. Only Shimon Peres, the country's ceremonial president, met with the former U.S. leader, and took that occasion to tell Carter that his planned meeting with Meshal was a grave mistake....."

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