Former US President Jimmy Carter meets with Hamas Leader

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Jimmy Carter

Early Friday, former United States President Jimmy Carter continued his nine-day tour in the Middle East, meeting with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Syria despite criticism from both the US and Israel. After more than four hours of talks, leading Hamas figure Mohammed Nazzal told reporters, "Carter suggested a truce and that Hamas should stop its rockets against Israel."

He added, "We support a truce, but Israel should support it too."

A second round of talks were to commence later Friday where they would discuss the release of captured Israeli solider Gilad Shalit. Nazzal commented stating, "They will discuss details related to the price and mechanisms for his release, which will not happen without a price."

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai said, "I am ready to meet with all necessary Hamas members" to negotiate the release of captured Israeli prisoners.

Carter has been criticized by many politicians, particularly US presidential candidate Barack Obama who commented on Carter's visit stating, "We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel's destruction. We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel's right to exist and abide by past agreements."

The former president, however, rebutted saying, "I think it's absolutely crucial that in a final dreamed-about and prayed-for peace agreement for this region that Hamas be involved and that Syria be involved."

"You can't have an agreement that must involve certain parties, unless you talk to those parties to conclude the agreement... They have to be involved in some way."