Middle East

Egypt's Morsi meets Palestinian chief Abbas

A handout picture released by the Egyptian presidency shows Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (R) meeting with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmud Abbas at the presidential palace in Cairo on July 18, 2012. AFP PHOTO/EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY

CAIRO: Egypt's new President Mohamed Morsi held his first meeting with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Wednesday, amid expectations that the Islamist would be more supportive of the Palestinians than his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

Abbas said following the afternoon meeting that he told Morsi the "doors were shut to the political process with Israel and there were no bilateral communications," the official MENA news agency reported.

Morsi had said he would adopt a firmer stance on Israel than ousted president Mubarak, but would respect a 1979 peace treaty with the Jewish state.

Under Mubarak, Egypt had tried to mediate a reconciliation between Abbas's Fatah and the Islamist Hamas, which took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Morsi is a former senior official of the Muslim Brotherhood, which took part in the early 2011 revolt that toppled Mubarak. The group has close ties with Hamas, an offshoot of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal was also in Cairo on Wednesday and met intelligence chief Murad Muwafi, who spearheads the reconciliation effort.

Morsi, elected in June, had vowed to support what he called the Palestinians' "right to resistance" against Israel but he has adopted a more subdued tone since winning the election.





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