By KARIN LAUB | AP ARABNEWS
CAIRO: Rival Palestinian leaders on Thursday held their first detailed talks on reconciliation since the Islamic militant Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip more than four years ago, declaring they made progress toward sharing power but failing to resolve key issues.
Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal talked for two hours in Cairo but did not reach agreement on touchy matters like the composition of an interim unity government and a date for elections.
The meeting raised new questions about whether the rivals are serious about sharing power, or just going through the motions.
The split, leaving competing governments in the West Bank and Gaza, has complicated peace efforts with Israel. The rift is unpopular among Palestinians, but the political camps have also benefited from the status quo and would have to give up positions of power for reconciliation.
Both leaders described the atmosphere in Thursday’s meeting as positive, suggesting they are ready to embark on a partnership despite the bitter animosity of the past.
“What is important to us is that we deal with each other as partners and shoulder the same responsibility toward our people and our cause,” said Abbas. Mashaal said that he and his former rival “opened a new page” in relations.
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