(photo credit: AP)
Damascus-based Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal congratulated US President-elect Barack Obama in a recent interview with Sky News, and used the moment to emphasize the group's willingness to engage in dialogue with the new president.
"There is no doubt that the recent American election is a big change when you get an American president with African roots," he said. "It's a big change - political and psychological - and it is noteworthy and I congratulate President Obama.
"But as a result of the election and the change, he should know he has duties to the United States and in the whole world and in hotspots, especially in the Middle East," the Hamas leader continued.
"Yes we are ready for dialogue with President Obama and with the new American administration with an open mind, on the basis that the American administration respects our rights and our options," Mashaal said.
During the interview, the Hamas leader was adamant that such a dialogue should take place.
"The American administration, if they want to deal with the region, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict, they have no other option than to deal with Hamas because we are a real force on the ground, effective," he said.
"And we are a movement that won a majority of votes in the election. Second of all, it's not right that Hamas poses any danger to anyone," Mashaal concluded.