World Bulletin / News Desk
The leader of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement which rules Israel-besieged Gaza Strip, met new Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi on Thursday and hailed Mursi's election as the start of a "new era" for Egypt and the Palestinians.
It was Khaled Meshaal's first visit to Egypt since Mursi won the country's first free leadership vote.
The founding of Hamas was inspired by Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood - Egypt's oldest and most established Islamist movement - but the Palestinian group now operates independently because of its location and the battle against Israel.
Meshaal and Mursi discussed ways to ensure that Gaza, which borders Egypt, gets the gas and petroleum it needs due to Israeli siege into the territory.
"We have entered a new era in Palestine's relationship with Egypt, the big sister and the leader of the Arab nation," Meshaal said after the meeting. "We were happy with what we heard from President Mohamed Mursi and his vision to handle all these issues."
The talks lasted almost two hours, twice as long as Mursi's meeting a day earlier with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority and leader of Fatah, Hamas's rival.
Hamas was isolated by Egypt under Mursi's ousted predecessor Hosni Mubarak, and the West.
Mursi is under pressure to help ease the Gaza blockade. Palestinians accuse Egypt of being complicit in Israel blockade by closing its border with Gaza.
Egypt's army-backed government decided in February to let more fuel into Gaza and increase electricity supplies.
But Hamas has yet to see any sign of a policy shift since the election of Mursi.
Meshaal said Egypt's presidency and intelligence services would continue to shepherd a reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah that began last year.
"Egypt has a key role in this," he said, adding that Hamas "remains strategically committed to the reconciliation".
A Muslim Brotherhood source said that Morsi, who faces multiple criminal charges, did not have a say in the matter since he refuses to recognize the legitimacy of the trials.
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