Britain and the Palestinian movement Hamas have increased contacts in recent weeks, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in an interview published Thursday.
Speaking to The Guardian newspaper from Gaza City, Haniyeh said that his group had widened links with Britain since BBC reporter Alan Johnston was released by his kidnappers earlier this month.
"I cannot deny that there are now other contacts, other channels of communication with the UK and these involve people of high rank, although I am not personally involved," Haniyeh was quoted as saying.
"The main aim of the contacts is to improve our democracy and governance. This is just part of many contacts that are going on with other governments around the world."
Haniyeh said that Britain wanted to keep the contacts secret.
The Guardian reported that officials from the British foreign ministry and the British consulate in Jerusalem denied any political contacts with Hamas, insisting that any contacts were "humanitarian and consular".
They reportedly said that Haniyeh may have misunderstood contacts with British non-governmental organisations such as Conflicts Forum, which work with former government advisers and civil servants, as well as members of Britain's upper House of Lords.
Haniyeh also said that he was pleased with the respect and gratitude shown by Britain in the wake of Johnston's release from 114 days in captivity in Gaza, which Hamas helped secure.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Temmuz 2007, 11:00