Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on Monday accused the US of obstructing efforts to end the rift between his movement and Fatah.Mashaal’s allegation came as he arrived in Moscow at the head of a Hamas delegation for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. This was Mashaal’s third visit to Moscow since Hamas won the January 2006 parliamentary election.Mashaal’s talks in Moscow focused on the continued power struggle between Hamas and Fatah and ways of achieving reconciliation between the two parties, sources close to Hamas said.The sources said that Mashaal complained to the Russian foreign minister that a US “veto” was stopping Hamas and Fatah from signing a reconciliation accord. Mashaal said that another reason for the delay in reaching agreement between the two parties was “amendments” introduced to the latest Egyptian “reconciliation” initiative.Hamas welcomed Mashaal’s visit to Russia as a major step toward launching dialogue between the movement and the international community.Mustapha Sawwaf, a political analyst and Hamas supporter, said that the visit was aimed at “creating a kind of balance in the international community’s policy toward the Middle East.”Sawwaf said that unlike the Americans and the Europeans, Russia was not opposed to reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. “The US policy toward reconciliation is hostile, while the Russians have adopted a balanced stance,” he noted.Another political analyst, Naji Sharab, pointed out that Mashaal’s visit to Moscow follows a similar visit by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He said that Hamas was also hoping that the Russians would exert pressure on some Arab countries that are opposed to the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip and reconciliation with Fatah.Hamas and Fatah appeared to be close to reaching agreement on ending their power struggle when top Fatah official Nabil Sha’ath visited the Gaza Strip last week for the first time in three years.Sha’ath held a series of meetings with senior Hamas representatives on ways of achieving reconciliation between the two parties. He said that he was dispatched to the Gaza Strip by Abbas, who authorized him to negotiate with Hamas about the proposed reconciliation.Sha’ath announced on Monday that the Hamas government has agreed torelease scores of Fatah prisoners held in the Gaza Strip. He also saidthat Hamas has agreed to reopen the Fatah offices in the Gaza Strip.Despite the apparent rapprochement, Hamas accused the PA securityforces of arresting eight of its supporters in the West Bank in thepast 48 hours.