A planned visit by Hamas leaders to Moscow is fast taking shape. Russia’s envoy to the Middle East, Alexander Kalugin, has discussed the plans with the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. He said it was “quite possible” that talks with the Palestinian militant group would take place this month.
He said: “We will ask Hamas to change their position … recognise the Israeli state and reject terrorism.” Leaders of Hamas, who recently won Palestinian elections, have confirmed their intention to take up Moscow’s invitation. Israeli politicians earlier condemned the move. However, observers say acting prime minister Ehud Olmert has lowered his tone. At a recent meeting of his cabinet he said he thought Russia was wrong, but noted Moscow’s latest explanation.