Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb met on the sidelines of the Islamic summit in Qatar with a senior leader of the Islamic militant movement Hamas who was expelled from Jordan a year ago, a Jordanian newspaper said Tuesday.
Citing a "high-ranking Islamic source participating in the summit," al-Dustour said Abu Ragheb met discreetly Monday with Khaled Meshaal, the head of the Hamas political bureau, in the presence of Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani.
There was no official confirmation of the report.
Al-Dustour said there was no information on what Abu Ragheb and Meshaal discussed, but said it was likely Hamas leaders' expulsion from the kingdom.
The meeting would be the first of its kind since November 1999, when the then Prime Minister Abdel Rauf Rawabdeh's government expelled Meshaal and three other Hamas leaders from Jordan, where they hold citizenship.
The Hamas leaders, who were accused by Amman of plotting "illegal activities threatening the stability of the kingdom and its foreign relations," fled to Qatar.
Doha has negotiated unsuccessfully between Amman and the militants, and al-Dustour said Qatar was eager to restart its mediation away from the media spotlight.
Hamas leaders were heartened when Abu Ragheb replaced Rawabdeh in June, but the new prime minister in August ruled out any change in Jordan's position on the militants.
Jordan's Islamist weekly al-Sabil on Tuesday urged King Abdullah II to authorize the return of the Hamas leaders, in a letter signed by a group of 50 Islamists, nationalists and professional unions.
Hamas is violently opposed to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and has claimed responsibility for a number of anti-Israeli attacks since the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords. It recently called on Palestinians to expand their uprising.
Jordan in 1994 became the second Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, after Egypt -- AMMAN (AFP)
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