Israel: France's position toward Hamas has not changed

Israel on Monday played down France's announcement of contacts with Hamas. Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said Israel has received assurances from France that it continues to abide by policies set by the international community after Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections two years ago. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by Israel, the European Union and the United States. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said earlier Monday that his government has had informal contacts with Hamas leaders "for several months."