Pro-US Arab countries put pressure on Hamas, Iran

February 3, 2009 20:21

The pro-US camp of Arab nations sought to solidify their front against Iran, making a show of unity Tuesday aimed at pushing Teheran's ally Hamas to sign onto a long-term truce with Israel. Foreign ministers from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations gathered in a hastily-thrown together meeting in this Gulf emirate as Hamas officials were holding new talks with Egyptian mediators, under pressure to sign onto a Gaza truce by Thursday. The gathering represented a more assertive push by Arab governments to push Hamas toward an Egyptian-mediated truce - and away from Iran. It also made starkly clear the split in the Arab world between US allies and a pro-Iranian camp, particularly Syria, which backs Hamas and Hizbullah. Damascus was not invited to the meeting - nor was Qatar, which has taken an increasingly pro-Hamas turn since Israel's 3-week offensive in Gaza. "We have to ensure with our unity that unwelcomed, non-Arab parties do not interfere in our affairs in an unneeded manner," the United Arab Emirates' foreign minister, Sheik Abdullah bin Zayed, said in a clear reference to Persian Iran.

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