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Middle East
Haniya set to begin unity talks
Coalition government talks set to get under way as US remains sceptical.
Last Modified: 17 Feb 2007 06:44 GMT
Haniya (left) and Abbas have reached agreement on a unity government [AFP]
Ismail Haniya, the Palestinian prime minister, has said he hopes to form a Palestinian unity government within three weeks.
 
"I am full of hope that we will be able to accomplish this [government] in less than three weeks," Haniya told worshippers before Friday prayers in Gaza City.
"From tomorrow we are going to proceed with consultations with the factions, the parliamentary groups and the independents to form the unity government," he said.
 
The statement came as the US reiterated its conditions for dealing with the new administration.
US 'boycott'
 
Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State said Washington was reserving judgment on the new government until it was formed.
 
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She denied in a television interview that the US had already decided to boycott the government.
 
Rice said prospects for Monday's summit between Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister were "obviously more complicated" by the planned Hamas-Fatah coalition.
 
But diplomats and Palestinian officials said the US had also warned Abbas it would boycott all ministers in the new government, including non-Hamas members, unless its demands were met.
 
A White House spokesman, Tony Snow, reiterated the demands of the US and EU, saying that the new government must recognise Israel, renounce violence and agree to abide by previous peace agreements.
 
Cabinet appointments
 
Haniya resigned, late on Thursday, only to be re-commissioned and charged by Abbas with forming a unity administration.
 
He has three weeks, with an extra two weeks' grace, to form and win parliamentary approval for a new cabinet.
 
Palestinians hope the new government will end infighting that has left 100 people dead since December and end a crippling Western aid boycott.
 
Under the terms of the Mecca agreement, agreed between Hamas and Fatah in the Saudi capital, Hamas will take 10 cabinet posts including Haniya, Fatah six, and others four.
 
The finance ministry will go to the Salam Fayad from the Third Way party, and the foreign ministry to Ziad Abu Amr, an independent MP, who was elected with Hamas backing.
Source:
Agencies
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