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The Palestinian Fatah movement accepted Monday a proposal from Egypt to meet with the Hamas group next week in Cairo to attempt to end fighting between the two factions, the Middle East News Agency reported.
Abdel Hakim Awadh, a member of the Fatah delegation currently in Cairo to meet with Egyptian officials, told MENA that Egypt's security chief Omar Suleiman made the offer to the delegation Monday and Fatah accepted.
Suleiman will make the same offer to Hamas when its delegation visits Cairo in the next few days, MENA reported Awadh as saying.
Fatah and Hamas reached a truce a little over a week ago to stem fierce factional fighting that killed more than 50 Palestinians, but tension between the two groups remains high.
Relations between the two Palestinian factions have been tense ever since Hamas won a majority in the 2006 legislative elections. The two groups agreed to form a national unity government in February, but clashes resumed afterward.
Also on Monday, Egypt's foreign minister urged both Israelis and Palestinians to end the recent cycle of violence that has left dead and wounded on both sides, according to a foreign ministry statement.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit's comments were released following his meeting in Cairo with a senior official from Fatah to discuss the security situation in the Palestinian territories.
In the statement, Aboul Gheit called Israel's use of force "excessive" and "demanded the Israeli side immediately halt all of its military operations in the Gaza Strip."
He also emphasized "the necessity of stopping the launching of Palestinian rockets," calling them "a pretext for Israeli troops to carry out more military operations."
Aboul Gheit also discussed recent fighting between Fatah and Hamas when he met with Deputy Prime Minister Azzam al-Ahmed, the statement said.
The foreign minister said "Palestinian infighting only benefits the Israeli side and supports its pretext that there is no negotiation partner."
In comments to reporters following his meeting with Aboul Gheit, al-Ahmed agreed that "Palestinian-Palestinian fighting has a negative impact." But he added that "the stagnation in the peace process is not due to Palestinian local events, but these events are used by Israel and the United States to justify not moving the peace process."
Al-Ahmed also met with Suleiman, Egypt's security chief, to discuss "ways to keep the cease fire and halt fighting among the Palestinians," he said.
Members of Hamas are expected to arrive in Cairo in the next few days for similar talks with Egypt, a regional heavyweight and top US ally that has been working to reconcile the Palestinian groups.
Aboul Gheit also met Monday with Michael C. Williams, the new UN Middle East envoy and "urged the necessity of achieving solid progress in peace in the Middle East as the only guarantee of stopping violence and escalation among Palestinians and Israelis," according to a second foreign ministry statement.
Williams, who met with several Arab officials while in Cairo, expressed his support for Egypt's role in mediating between Fatah and Hamas.
"We welcome Egypt's efforts to regain stability in Gaza, which is of absolute importance," he told reporters Monday after meeting with Arab League chief Amr Moussa.