UN chief says he will not meet Hamas officials

The visiting UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, said Sunday that the time is not ripe for meetings with Hamas officials in the new Palestinian Authority government. Hamas, branded a terrorist group by the US and European Union, joined the more moderate Fatah party in a coalition government last week. PA officials have expressed hope that the alliance would lead to an end of international sanctions imposed against the previous Hamas government. Ban welcomed the formation of the new government, but said "the atmosphere is not ripe" for talks with Hamas. "At this time, I do not have plans to meet with PA Prime Minister Haniyeh or other Hamas Cabinet ministers," he said after a meeting with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah.