JEDDAH – King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, held talks Sunday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The two leaders discussed “mainly the Palestinian issue,” in addition to “ways to enhance cooperation,” it said.
The talks came as the two main rival Palestinian factions began a new round of talks in Cairo, facing a 10-day deadline for a reconciliation agreement.
Egypt has been mediating talks between President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party and the Hamas aimed at healing bitter divisions between the two since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. “The two delegations, who had a working dinner Saturday evening, met Sunday for a sixth round of talks,” Egypt’s official MENA news agency reported.
The factions will also meet Egypt’s intelligence chief Omar Suleiman ahead of a July 7 target date to sign a deal which will lay out an electoral law, define the make-up of security forces and of a committee to liaise between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli-occupied West Bank ahead of an election in 2010.
Smaller Palestinian factions will join the negotiations on July 5, senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath said.
Shaath said disagreements arose in Sunday’s talks, with Hamas insisting on discussing political prisoners before other issues on the agenda but he added that a special committee was working on resolving the problem.
Hamas has demanded that Abbas’ Palestinian Authority release all “political prisoners” - referring to the scores of Hamas members arrested in the Israeli-occupied West Bank - or provide a timetable for their release.
The movement has released 20 Fatah members in Gaza “to aid Egyptian efforts toward bringing about national reconciliation,” Hamas government spokesman Taher al-Nunu said on Sunday. - AFP