Palestinian president in Damascus for crucial talks with Hamas chief
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was in Damascus for talks with Syrian leaders and Palestinian factions aimed at ending a battle for power with the rival Hamas party. Abbas was greeted at the Damscus airport by Foreign Minister Walid Moallem and then went to the presidential palace for talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Abbas could also hold a meeting with the exiled political chief of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal. Asked about a possible meeting with Meshaal, Abbas told reporters on his arrival in Damascus Saturday: "All the parties are present here. Those who want to meet will be welcome to."
Moussa Abu Marzouk, Meshaal's deputy, said the Abbas-Meshaal meeting would take place Saturday evening. "We hope that (Abbas') visit will succeed in solving all the problems, but we don't know what the final position of Abu Mazen will be," Abu Marzouk said.
At a press conference with visiting EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Friday, Abbas would say only that he would meet with "numerous Palestinian figures" in the Syrian capital. In Gaza City, however, Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya said such a meeting was "expected."