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Saud's FM holds talks in Syria, Egypt

Hamas pledges loyalty to Arabs: Saudi FM

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Fisal visited Syria on Tuesday, where he met with the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Both underlined the importance of Yemen's unity as well as the essentiality of the Palestinian reconciliation.

Talks with Assad touched on several issues including the Middle east peace process and the obstacles laid by Israel in its path, Prince al-Fisal told reporters after his meeting with the Syrian President.

He added that the talks also shed the light on the Palestinian reconciliation and the developments in Lebanon and Iraq.

Hamas

Al-Fisal's visit to Damascus follows visits to Riyadh by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal.

Earlier, the Saudi Foreign Minister said that Meshaal has assured Saudi Arabia his movement is loyal to Arab states.

"I asked Khaled Meshaal whether the movement stood with Arabs or with others," Prince al-Fisal said, referring to Iran, a strong regional backer of Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza.

"Meshaal insisted that Hamas was an Arab movement and that the Palestinian question was an Arab issue," the Saudi minister said at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The exchange between Prince Saud and Meshaal occurred on Sunday during a visit by the Hamas leader to Saudi Arabia.

Tensions have recently mounted as Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of supporting Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, which the kingdom has fought along its border with Yemen.

Prince Saud's visit to Egypt is part of a string of regional meetings aimed at reviving peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which have been stalled for a year.

Meshaal insisted that Hamas was an Arab movement and that the Palestinian question was an Arab issue

Prince Saud al-Faisal

Talks with Mubarak

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah II were in Egypt on Monday for talks with Mubarak, a week after a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Sunday in Riyadh, Meshaal said Egyptian-led talks aimed at reconciling the Palestinian Islamist movement and its rival Fatah were close to bearing fruit.

Israel, Egypt and the United States want Abbas to resume negotiations with the Jewish state broken off a year ago over the Gaza war, but he refuses to sit down to talks as long as Israel allows construction of any kind in Jewish West Bank settlements.

The Palestinians have insisted the borders of their promised state encompass all of their land Israel occupied in 1967, including mostly Arab east Jerusalem -- which Israel later annexed in a move not recognized by the international community -- as their capital.

U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell is expected to return to the region early this year, and Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and intelligence head Omar Suleiman are due to visit Washington on Friday.

(Translated from Arabic by Abeer Tayel)