September 28, 2009 / 8:25 PM / 10 years ago

Egypt to call Palestinians to sign pact in October

CAIRO, Sept 28 (Reuters) - The exiled leader of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas said Egypt would present it and its rival Fatah faction with a reconciliation pact to be ratified next month.

Damascus-based Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal told reporters after "very positive" talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo on Monday that Egypt would table a plan to be presented to Hamas and its rival Fatah group of President Mahmoud Abbas.

"(Egyptian intelligence chief Omar) Suleiman told us that the Egyptians will be working on the final draft for the reconciliation plan which will have at its heart the Egyptian proposal and they will call on all Palestinian factions for a national meeting in October to ratify the pact," Meshaal said.

Abbas has also visited Cairo recently and discussed the reconciliation proposal with Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak.

Egypt has been mediating for over a year to heal the split between Fatah and Hamas, ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections slated for next year.

Egypt last week suggested delaying Palestinian elections to allow more time to work out a power-sharing deal between the two rival groups. Elections are legally due on Jan. 25, 2010 but no firm date has ever been published for the next ballot.

A senior Fatah official has said his movement would accept a delay, though others said that would be conditional on a deal with Hamas by the end of October.

Fatah administers the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Hamas rules Gaza — the two territories where Palestinians want to establish their future state following a peace deal with Israel.

A dispute over the mutual detention of hundreds of each groups supporters has also blocked progress in the talks.

"We heard a clear Egyptian commitment to provide a specific mechanism to release the detainees," Meshaal said, without elaborating. (Reporting by Mariam Karouny; writing by Alastair Sharp)

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