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Home >> World
UPDATED: 14:46, February 10, 2007
Countries welcome Mecca agreement, U.S., Israel cautious
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Most countries have welcomed the Mecca agreement between the two Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas to form a national unity government, but the United States and Israel remained cautious on the deal.

The agreement, which was reached late on Thursday between Fatah and Hamas in the Saudi holy city of Mecca, is aimed at forming a national unity government to end infighting and lifting international siege.

Calling the deal a "very important step forward," UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday voiced his hope that it "will curb the violence, creating a better future for the Palestinian people."

The UN chief also highly praised the work of Saudi Arabia, which brought Fatah and Hamas together. "The initiative by King Abdullah was commendable and welcome," UN spokesperson Michele Montas said, quoting Ban.

Russia, which has been seeking a bigger role in the Middle East, on Friday hailed the agreement as "an important factor" in the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.

"We expect that the fulfillment of the Mecca agreement should be supplemented with the lift of the blockade on Palestinian territories, which brings suffering and hardships to average people," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Germany, which is in charge of the rotating European Union presidency, also responded positively.

"I hope that this agreement will bring inter-Palestinian violence to a halt," Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement.

"What we expect of the Palestinians is clear: the violence against Israel must end," he said. "The dialogue with the Israeli government commenced by President (Mahmoud) Abbas must be continued."

The deal also won applause from the Arab world, with Egypt, Syria, Oman and the Cairo-based Arab League (AL) calling it a step in the right direction to stop the infighting in the Palestinian territories.

Meanwhile, the United States and Israel remained cautious on the deal, insisting that the future Palestinian government must accept all three international conditions: renouncing violence, recognizing Israel and accepting past peace accords.

"We will see in the coming days and weeks whether or not this government of national unity is one that is clearly and credibly committed to those principles," U.S. State Department spokesman Sean Mccormack said.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino echoed the comments, saying the U.S. was looking at the details of the accord.

"It's important that we be given some time to look at the agreement, especially at the details of it," Perino told reporters.

The agreement should help put an end to the bloody violence between Fatah and Hamas supporters, which has left some 100 dead since December, Perino noted.

Israeli government spokeswoman Miri Eisin told the Associated Press late on Thursday that the new Palestinian government must renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept past peace accords.

"Israel expects a new Palestinian government to respect and accept all three of the international community principles," Eisin said.

Eisin, however, would not say whether Israel believes the guidelines of the new government fulfill those demands.

Source: Xinhua

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