Obama adviser denies Hamas meeting

Says reports that Obama aides met with Hamas officials before elections, are "just plain false."

obama smiles 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
obama smiles 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
US President-elect Barack Obama's office flatly denied a Hamas official's claim Tuesday that advisers to Obama met with representatives from the terrorist organization while on a visit to the region."This assertion is just plain false," Obama's senior foreign policy adviser, Denis McDonough, told The Jerusalem Post.Earlier in the day, the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper published an interview with Hamas political adviser Ahmed Yousef in which he said that a secret meeting was held in Gaza ahead of the US election on November 4."We are maintaining contact with them," Yousef said. "We first made contact on the Internet and then met with some of them here in the Gaza Strip. They advised us not to reveal this information lest it influence the elections or become manipulated by [Republican candidate John] McCain's campaign."With the campaign over, he added, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh would be sending a letter of congratulations to Obama.Yousef also said that he personally had friendly relations with a few of Obama's advisers whom he had met when he lived in the US.Obama stressed throughout the campaign that he would not meet with members of Hamas so long as it didn't accept the international community's three demands - that it halt violence against Israel, recognize Israel and accept previous agreements between the Palestinians and Israel.One of Obama's Middle East policy advisers, Rob Malley, resigned during the Democratic candidate's campaign once it became known that he had met with Hamas members in the course of his conflict resolution work with the International Crisis Group.