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Mashaal with Abbas 311 R.(Photo by: Reuters)
Fatah, Hamas close to agreement on unity gov't
Progress achieved during talks between PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Doha, Qatar.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal are close to reaching an agreement on the formation of a unity government that would prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections, Palestinian sources said.

The progress was achieved during talks Sunday between Abbas and Mashaal in Doha, Qatar, the sources said.

The two were expected to hold a second meeting late Sunday to agree on the identity of the prime minister who would head the unity government, the sources said.

The unity government will be announced within the next two weeks, added the sources.

It is not clear at this stage who would head the unity government.

Hamas has voiced strong opposition to the appointment of current Prime Minister Salam Fayyad as head of the proposed unity government.

Abbas and Mashaal met under the auspices of the rulers of Qatar, who have put pressure on Fatah and Hamas to implement the Egyptian-brokered reconciliation that they reached in Cairo last year.

Azzam Ahmed, a top aide to Abbas, said that the two parties agreed on the formation of a unity government and to holding new elections in the near future.

Ahmed said the two men also managed to solve a number of problems hindering the implementation of the reconciliation accord, such as the travel ban imposed by Hamas on Fatah officials in the Gaza Strip, and the issuing of Palestinian passports to residents of the West Bank.

In a separate development, Emad Alami, a senior Hamas official, arrived Sunday in the Gaza Strip after spending the last 21 years in Syria.

Alami, member of the Hamas political bureau, is one of several Hamas leaders who left Syria in recent weeks in the wake of growing tensions with the Syrian authorities.
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