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    Palestine approves of Russia's invitation to Hamas

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    MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - The Palestinian National Authority approves of Russia's plans to invite the leadership of the radical Islamic group Hamas, recently elected to the Palestinian parliament, to Moscow, a PNA diplomat said Thursday.

    "We hail steps seeking to settle the situation in the region, which will finally lead to peace and the establishment of an independent state with the capital in Jerusalem and borders of 1967," an advisor of the PNA embassy in Moscow said.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier told journalists in Madrid, where he is on an official visit, that Moscow intended to invite the Hamas leadership. "We are maintaining contact with Hamas, and will send them our proposal in the near future," the president said.

    "Today, [we] must recognize that Hamas came to power via legitimate, democratic elections in the Palestinian National Authority, which is why we must respect the choice of the Palestinian people," Putin said.

    He said, however, it is necessary to search for solutions that would be acceptable to the new Palestinian government, the international community, and Israel.

    Russia's special envoy to the Middle East said Russia hoped to persuade Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist.

    Alexander Kalugin said: "Without this, dialogue will be difficult to accomplish."

    Hamas, elected to the parliament of the PNA in January, has accepted responsibility for a number of terrorist acts in Israel, and refuses to recognize Israel as a nation state.

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