Sudanese Islamists pledge support for Palestinians

KHARTOUM Sat Nov 17, 2012 4:24pm EST

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KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A conference of influential Islamists in Sudan declared support for Palestinians in the conflict with Israel on Saturday, saying they were devoted to the cause regardless of the repercussions.

Last month, Sudanese officials blamed an Israeli air strike for a blast at the country's biggest weapons factory in the capital Khartoum that killed four people. Israel has not commented on the accusation.

In turn, Israeli officials have accused Sudan of channeling weapons to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, where it launched a massive air campaign on Wednesday with the declared goal of deterring the Palestinian Islamist group from launching rockets that have plagued its southern communities for years.

In the closing statements of a conference, Sudan's Islamic Movement said it was committed to returning Palestinian rights.

The Islamic Movement is part of Sudan's ruling establishment and counts many of the country's most powerful politicians as members, including President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Its statements largely reflect the government's position.

"(The Movement) is committed to this, no matter how great the sacrifices for its principled position based on the return of the rights of Muslims in Jerusalem and in the usurped land of Palestine," the group said in a statement.

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal was given a hero's welcome at the Thursday's opening of the conference, where leaders of Islamist groups that have come to power through elections in Tunisia and Egypt after popular uprisings also condemned Israel.

On Friday, Meshaal said Hamas would take revenge for Israel's "aggression" against Sudan.

(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz)

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