Under a two-day visit to Damascus, President Mahmoud Abbas would not meet with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who lives in exile there. His discussions with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad focused on Arab efforts to help end the rift between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah movement following Hamas’ takeover in Gaza.
Abbas is reportedly exploring Hamas’ willingness to hand over Palestinian Authority institutions, form a new government of technocrats and hold early elections.
Hamas has said it wants a dialogue with Fatah only and insists on talks without any preconditions, according to Reuters.
Read: Reuters Alertnet, “Abbas explores Hamas position in talks with Assad,” 6 July 2008, http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L06593541.htm.