Iranian foreign minister meets Hamas officials in Syria

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki met here Monday with Palestinian officials, including some from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a week before a meeting in Syria meant to counter a US-hosted Mideast conference in the fall. Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau, said he and Mottaki discussed the situation in the Gaza Strip and the US-sponsored conference which Washington hopes will relaunch negotiations on creating a Palestinian state. After the meeting between Mottaki and Hamas officials, members of other Palestinian factions, including the leader of Islamic Jihad Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, met the Iranian foreign minister, according to a member of the Iranian delegation. Abu Marzouk said he and Mottaki spoke about recent talks between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. He also said that Iran has shown readiness to host a Palestinian conference but prefers it be held in an Arab country.