World Bulletin / News Desk
Hamas has begun a training programme for diplomats in the Gaza Strip where it rules, a senior official of the Islamist group said, raising the spectre of divisions in the Palestinian national movement spreading to its representation abroad.
Hamas seized Gaza in 2007 from the Fatah party that long dominated Palestinian politics and now rules parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. But Hamas has hitherto not challenged the Palestine Liberation Organisation, dominated by Fatah and recognised by the United Nations as the Palestinians' sole representative abroad for almost 40 years.
It may be time to end that diplomatic monopoly, Hamas deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad suggested on Wednesday.
"We have relations with some countries and we need to prepare our cadres and develop the diplomatic skills of staff to deal with those countries on joint projects," he told Reuters.
"The aim of such a step and training is to develop relations with world countries when time and conditions permit," said Hamad. He declined to say how many diplomats-in-waiting would be trained, what tasks they would perform or where.
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