French PM: Hamas faces "historic choice" at talks

February 15, 2006 03:00


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Hamas faces a "historic choice" at talks set for this month in Moscow - whether to give up violence and recognize Israel, France's prime minister said. Dominique de Villepin, on a visit to the Russian capital, told Ekho Moskvy radio Tuesday that the Russian offer to host Hamas leaders after their victory in Palestinian legislative elections last month should be reciprocated. "What I want, of course, is that in the course of these meetings, Hamas should recognize its responsibilities and the opportunity that it is being offered ..." the French prime minister said. "So it is a very important moment, it is a historic choice for Hamas." Russia has said it will press Hamas, which has killed hundreds of Israelis in suicide attacks, to abandon violence and recognize Israel's right to exist. France is the only Western nation to have publicly backed the Russian initiative, which provoked anger in Israel.

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