Official: Hamas leader Mashaal to visit Jordan next week

January 24, 2012 17:35

AMMAN - Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal will head to Jordan on Sunday for the first official talks since a crackdown by Amman on the group more than a decade ago, Jordanian officials said on Tuesday.

They said the trip arranged with Qatari mediation reflected Jordan's desire to normalize ties with the main Palestinian opposition group but not a shift away from stalwart support for the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas.

Jordan has normal ties with Israel and is a key ally of Hamas's major rival, the secular Fatah movement, and its leader Abbas. Amman and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, unlike Hamas, back a negotiated solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Jordanian officials said Mashaal's visit would herald a thaw in ties soured since the kingdom banned Hamas from its soil after a security clampdown in 1999.

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