An Iranian deputy foreign minister has met with top Syrian and Palestinian officials - including a Palestinian representative to Lebanon. Mohammad Reza Baqeri, Iran's deputy foreign minister in charge of Asia and African countries, told reporters Sunday after meeting with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa that Iran "extremely regrets their [Hamas and Fatah's] inter-fighting and separation."
'Hamas coup was coordinated with Iran'
Baqeri, who arrived in Syria on Friday, held separate talks Saturday with several Damascus-based Palestinian leaders including Khaled Mashaal, the exiled chief of the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hamas. He also held rare talks with Abbas Zaki, the top Palestinian Liberation Organization representative in Lebanon who has close ties to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
There was no immediate information about the talks with the Palestinian officials.
Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip in a bloody rout of Abbas's Fatah group earlier this month. The Palestinian infighting has left the Palestinians with two governments - Abbas's new cabinet in the West Bank, and the Hamas rulers in Gaza.
Baqeri's visit to Syria comes before Prime Minister Ehud Olmert heads to Egypt for a summit with Abbas, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Jordanian King Abdullah II. The Arab leaders have joined together to support Abbas and isolate Hamas.
The deputy head of Hamas's political bureau in Syria, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said Palestinians "need an overall revision of all measures taken by Abbas because they are illegal and illegitimate and instigated by the United States and Israel."
In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Abu Marzouk criticized Abbas for rejecting talks with Hamas, saying his stand is "unwise and irresponsible."
He called for the need to conduct an investigation into the latest fighting that triggered his group's taking over Gaza Strip and the measures taken by Abbas, including the dissolving of the coalition government and the forming of an emergency government.
"We have urgently called for a fact-finding mission because we know who has started the fighting and who has plotted for these events.... It's the same adventurous party that listens to foreign dictates," Abu Marzouk said.