Senior Hamas official says Islamists are holding secret talks with 5 EU countries

Associated Press

BEIRUT - A senior Hamas official says the Islamic militant group has been holding secret political talks with five European Union member states in recent months.

The EU says officially that it will not deal with Hamas unless the group renounces violence and recognizes Israel.

Europe and the U.S. have been rethinking Mideast policy since the Arab Spring uprisings toppled several pro-Western regimes in favour of Islamists.

Osama Hamdan, who handles foreign relations for Hamas, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that talks with European government officials focus on the Hamas positions toward Israel and paralyzed Mideast peace efforts.

Hamdan would not name the countries. Three Hamas officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza said Britain, France and Holland are among them.

There was no immediate comment from EU countries.

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