Powell calls for talks with Hamas

By Xinhua

Washington : Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday that the Middle East Quartet should have talks to the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).

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"I don't think you can just cast them into outer darkness and try to find a solution to the problems of the region without taking to account the standing that Hamas has in the Palestinian community," Powell said in a radio interview.

"They (Hamas) won an election that we insisted upon having," Powell said. "And so, as unpleasant a group they may be and as distasteful as I find some of their positions, I think through some means, the Middle East Quartet … or through some means Hamas has to be engaged."

Powell made the remarks while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is visiting Lisbon, Portugal, said neither of the MiddleEast Quartet – the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia would deal with Hamas unless it recognizes Israel's right to exist and renounces terrorism.

Rice's call has apparently ruled out the possibility of Hamas' participation in an upcoming Middle East peace meeting called by U.S. President George W. Bush.