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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 02:07 GMT
Palestinian sanctions to remain
Condoleezza Rice and Javier Solana
The US and EU said there was not enough evidence of change
The European Union and the United States have agreed to withhold recognition for the new Palestinian unity government, sworn in on Saturday.

In Washington the US secretary of state and the EU foreign policy chief renewed their call for the government to recognise Israel and renounce violence.

The presence of militant group Hamas in the government is a major obstacle for the US, correspondents say.

But the US and EU said they would stay in touch with moderate Palestinians.

That means those loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but not members of Hamas, says the BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington.

The so-called Middle East Quartet - the United Nations, the EU, Russia and the US - have demanded that the Palestinian government renounce violence, recognise Israel and accept past peace agreements.

Since Hamas won elections in January last year, a freeze has been imposed on international aid to the government.

'Doesn't sound good'

After meeting in Washington, the top diplomats from the US and EU said they had not seen evidence that the government had changed its stance since Hamas agreed to admit other parties to a unity coalition.

"I have to say that this government does not comply fully with the principles" laid down by the Quartet, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said.

Palestinian cabinet
Non-Hamas members have joined the new Palestinian cabinet

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the new unity government's defence of its right to resist Israel's occupation did not bode well.

"I'm not going to try to interpret what the right of resistance means but I'll tell you it doesn't sound very good to me when one talks about 'all forms of resistance'," she said.

"So I would put the question to the Palestinian government and to its prime minister - do you mean the right of resistance by violence? And let's get an answer."

Both the US and the European Union have urged the Palestinians to prove by their deeds that they are now committed to peace.

Condoleezza Rice is expected to visit the Palestinian territories and Israel later this week but her hopes of renewing peace talks still seem distant, says our correspondent.

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