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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday the international diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East should find some way to talk to Hamas.
"I don't think you can just cast them into outer darkness and try to find a solution to the problems of the region without taking to account the standing that Hamas has in the Palestinian community," Powell said in a radio interview.
He said Hamas, which controls Gaza, is not going away and enjoys considerable support among the Palestinian people.
"They won an election that we insisted upon having," Powell said. "And so, as unpleasant a group they may be and as distasteful as I find some of their positions, I think through some means, the Middle East Quartetâ€¦ or through some means Hamas has to be engaged."
In Lisbon, Portugal, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said neither the Quartet - the US, the EU, the UN and Russia - nor Washington would deal with Hamas unless it recognizes Israel's right to exist and renounces terrorism, ruling out its participation in an upcoming Middle East peace meeting called by President George W. Bush.