In an interview with Britain's Sky News, the exiled leader of Hamas said he is ready to talk to the US president-elect Barack Obama. Speaking from Damascus, Khaled Meshaal commented on Obama's election win. "There is no doubt that the recent American election is a big change when you get an American president with African roots," he said.
"It's a big change - political and psychological - and it is noteworthy and I congratulate President Obama. "But as a result of the election and the change, he should know he has duties to the United States and in the whole world and in hotspots especially in the Middle East."
The leader of the Palestinian movement picked up on Obama's offer to talk to America's enemies and threw down this gauntlet for the new President-elect. "Yes we are ready for dialogue with President Obama and with the new American administration with an open mind, on the basis that the American administration respects our rights and our options," said Mr Meshaal.
Asked why America should talk to a movement whose charter is committed to the destruction of Israel, Meshaal insisted it had no choice. "The American administration, if they want to deal with the region, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict, they have no other option than deal with Hamas because we are a real force on the ground, effective," he said.
"And we are a movement that won a majority of votes in the election. Second of all, it's not right that Hamas poses any danger to anyone."