Hamas' Ismail Haniya visits Egypt for Gaza siege talks

Hamas leader heads to Cairo to discuss 'mechanisms to ease Gaza's siege', in first such visit since his election in May.

    Haniya, 54, was elected as the leader of Hamas' political bureau four months ago [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
    Haniya, 54, was elected as the leader of Hamas' political bureau four months ago [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

    The head of Palestinian group Hamas, Ismail Haniya, has travelled to Cairo to hold talks with senior Egyptian officials about the blockade of Gaza, on his first such visit since his election in May.

    Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, a densely populated coastal territory that shares borders with Egypt and Israel, with which it has fought three wars since 2008.

    For much of the last decade, Egypt has joined Israel in enforcing a crippling blockade that has deprived the enclave's roughly two million inhabitants of most basic commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.

    READ MORE: Egypt and Palestine discuss Hamas-Cairo rapprochement

    A Hamas statement on Saturday said the delegation would discuss "mechanisms to ease the siege on Gaza and other issues of mutual concern".

    An Egyptian source confirmed Haniya's arrival with a delegation for talks on the border crossing, security and power supplies, Reuters news agency reported.

    Following the talks in Cairo, the Hamas delegation "may conduct a tour of some Arab and Muslim countries", Anadolu Agency reported, citing a "well-informed Hamas source".

    The source did not specify which countries the tour would include.

    READ MORE: What is next for Hamas?

    The Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world. Six of these are controlled by Israel, while the seventh - the Rafah crossing - is controlled by Egypt, which continues to keep it tightly sealed for the most part.

    Hamas has been seeking to improve relations with neighbouring Egypt in a bid to convince Cairo to open the territory's border with Gaza - its main gateway to the outside world.

    Haniya, 54, was elected leader of Hamas' political bureau in May. The group maintains a sizeable armed wing in Gaza since seizing the enclave from Fatah in 2007. 

    SOURCE: News agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.