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Hamas says Obama must change US policy

Hamas team visits Egypt for truce talks

United States President Barack Obama must change his policies and support the Palestinians, the Islamist Hamas movement said Friday, as it sent a team to Egypt for talks on consolidating a ceasefire with Israel.

"He (Obama) is beginning to adopt the wrong policy," spokesman Fawzi Barhum said in a statement.

That same policy "is the main reason for the suffering of the Palestinian people and the collective punishment imposed upon it".

"President Obama must adopt positions backing the just Palestinian cause, putting an end to Zionist crimes and recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to defend itself," Barhum said.

Obama warns, Hamas warns

Obama warned Hamas fighters, who seized control of Gaza in 2007, that they must halt rocket fire on southern Israel and that Washington would continue to support Israel's right to defend itself.

"For years Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at innocent Israeli citizens. No democracy can tolerate such danger to its people," Obama said.

"To be a genuine party to peace ... Hamas must meet clear conditions, recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence and abide by past agreements."

In the meantime, Hamas sent a three-man team to Cairo for talks on consolidating a ceasefire with Israel, which ended a 22-day assault on the Gaza Strip, Barhum said.

"They will have discussions with the Egyptian authorities to try to end the (Israeli) blockade and open the crossing points, including the Rafah terminal," on the Egyptian border, Barhum noted.

Hamas must meet clear conditions, recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence and abide by past agreements,

U.S. president Barack Obama

Hamas has warned it will resume fighting if Israel does not open the border crossings.

Both sides have observed their own ceasefires since last Sunday when Israel ended Operation Cast Lead leaving a trail of devastation and 1,330 Palestinians dead, according to doctors.

The Cairo government had sought a more formal ceasefire agreed by all sides.

Israeli envoy Amos Gilad and Egyptian officials held talks on Thursday that were expected to focus on stemming arms smuggling across the porous Gaza-Egypt border.

Gilad, a reserve general, visited Egypt at least twice during the Israeli war on Gaza. Last year, he was Israel's point man in talks that led to a six-month Egyptian-brokered truce with Hamas that expired on Dec. 19.

President Obama must adopt positions backing the just Palestinian cause, putting an end to Zionist crimes and recognizing the right of the Palestinian people to defend itself,

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum