DAMASCUS, (Reuters) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas discussed on Saturday efforts to achieve Palestinian reconciliation with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“We agree with Syria that the dialogue should succeed,” Abbas’s aide Nabil Abu Rdainah told reporters. He was referring to Egyptian mediation between Abbas’s Fatah faction and Hamas, which is supported by Syria and Iran. Egypt has set July 7 as a deadline to find a solution for divisions between the two groups.
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who lives in exile in Syria, cancelled a speech he was due to make later on Saturday shortly after Abbas met Assad. No explanation was given.
Abbas’s visit to Syria is the second since May. His aides said Abbas had no scheduled meetings any Palestinian factions in Syria before leaving for Saudi Arabia for talks with King Abdullah on Sunday.
But Khaled Abdul Majid, who heads the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, said Abbas appears to have prolonged his visit to Damascus and a meeting between Abbas and Meshaal was possible.
The two last met in January 2007 in Damascus and agreed not to shed Palestinian blood between them, but violence between the two groups intensified and Hamas took control of the Gaza strip by force five months later.