RIYADH (AFP) -Hamas leaders will be in Saudi Arabia soon, the kingdom’s foreign minister said, as visiting French President Jacques Chirac said he opposed sanctions against the Palestinian Islamist movement.
“Yes, we are going to see them. They will be here, probably in the next few days,” Prince Saud al-Faisal told reporters.
“We put no conditions on them. We hope that as a government, they will represent the interests of the Palestinian people and we are waiting for them to show us what kind of leadership they are going to provide to the Palestinian movement. We are not prejudging or putting conditions on them.”
He also said France was of the same opinion as Saudi Arabia that an eventual Hamas-led government must be given a chance to outline its programme and policy.
“What is important is to hear is what they say after becoming a government and what they are going to do. So we are not going to prejudge, neither us nor France,” added Faisal.
Following the Hamas victory in the January legislative elections, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have refused to cut financial aide to Palestinians and boycott the movement, a position spearheaded by Israel and the United States.
Flush from the end of a landmark visit to Moscow that ended Sunday, Hamas leaders have said they would not amend their charter to renounce armed struggle and recognise Israel’s right to exist as demanded by the members of the so called Quartet — the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States.
Hamas has demanded Israel’s full withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders.
In a separate press conference, Chirac, who was at the end of a three-day visit to Riyadh, urged Hamas to meet the demands of the Quartet while insisting the will of the Palestinian people must be respected and that they would suffer from any potential sanctions against a Hamas-led government.
“I am against sanctions in general and especially in this case,” said Chirac.
“I do not see why we should impose sanctions when their brunt will be borne by the Palestinian people.”