Egypt said Thursday that it will invite rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas to Cairo in late October for a final round of talks that it believes will result in a signed reconciliation agreement.
The Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers and Fatah, which leads a separate, Western-backed government in the West Bank, have been bitterly divided since a civil war more than two years ago.
Bringing the sides together and restoring some Fatah control in Gaza could open up the blockaded and impoverished seaside territory to more aid from international donors that had shunned dealings with the militants of Hamas.
Egypt has been trying for months to broker such a deal, and Hamas's exiled leader, Khaled Mashaal, said this week that his group has agreed to an Egyptian proposal to reconcile with Fatah.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman will fly to Jordan on Monday for talks with Fatah leader and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to seek his final endorsement of the proposal, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki.
Egypt will invite Fatah and Hamas to meet in Cairo on October 19 and expects the two sides to sign a reconciliation agreement three days later, said Zaki.