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    Ex-U.S. president Carter meets senior Hamas figure

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    GAZA, April 15 (RIA Novosti) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter angered Israel on Tuesday by meeting a former Hamas minister in the West Bank.

    Carter greeted Nasser Shaer in Ramallah and called for a stronger role for Hamas, considered a terrorist organization both by the U.S. and Israel, in the Mideast peace process.

    "Since Syria and Hamas will have to be involved in a final peace agreement, they have to be involved in discussions that lead to final peace," Carter told Shaer, who formerly served as deputy prime minister in the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

    On April 18, Carter is set to meet Khaled Mashaal, the exiled leader of the radical Islamist group.

    According to Egyptian media reports, Hamas is planning an offensive to break through Gaza's border with Egypt for the second time.

    Egyptian state daily Al-Ahram quoted Gaza sources as saying Hamas fighters plan to fire mortar shells at Egyptian troops during the first stage of the operation.

    The aim of the operation is to allow Gaza residents, locked into the crowded enclave and running low on supplies amid Israel's blockade, to cross into neighboring Egypt.

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