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U.S. says no immediate change of attitude toward Hamas
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08:21, July 06, 2007

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The United States said on Thursday that Hamas' role in releasing of BBC reporter Alan Johnston will not change the world's opinion of the Islamic militant group.

"I don't think the world views Hamas any differently as a result of this," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said of the release of Johnston who was kidnapped in Gaza in March.

The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) said Wednesday that Alan Johnston has been released.

Johnston was reportedly delivered at dawn Wednesday to the home of former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas in a refugee camp in Gaza City, where he was received by his colleagues.

A radical group calling itself the Army of Islam claimed responsibility for kidnapping Johnston on March 12 and demanded that Britain free al-Qaida leaders in exchange of the release of the reporter.

Hamas had demanded Johnston's freedom since it seized control of Gaza last month.

In recent days, the Army of Islam and Hamas exchanged prisoners during negotiations to free Johnston.

Western and Israeli officials welcomed the release, but they said that this would not be enough to warrant any immediate change in policy toward Hamas, which the U.S., Israel and the European Union still classify as a terrorist organization and formally boycott.

Source: Xinhua

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