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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 March 2006, 22:14 GMT
Hamas claims strong Saudi support
Khaled Meshaal, Hamas political leader in exile
Hamas is on a fundraising tour across the Middle East
Hamas has claimed "excellent" Saudi backing for the Palestinian Authority amid US and EU threats to cut funding after the group's election win.

A delegation of Hamas leaders has been visiting Riyadh as part of a tour to enlist financial and political support for the new government it is forming.

Saudi Arabia has traditionally been one of the biggest financial backers of the Palestinian Authority.

There was no immediate comment from the Saudis after the Hamas visit.

We did not go into numbers but they promised excellent support
Ezzat El-Resheq
Hamas delegate

Hamas five-strong delegation, including exiled leader Khaled Meshaal, had talks with Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and Prince Muqrin bin Abdul-Aziz, the Saudi intelligence chief.

"They affirmed that political and financial aid to the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian people would continue," delegation member Ezzat El-Resheq told Reuters news agency in Riyadh.

"We did not go into numbers but they promised excellent support."


Saudi Arabia earlier rejected US calls to isolate Hamas because of its attacks on Israel.

"We hope that as a government, they will represent the interests of the Palestinian people and we are waiting for them to show us what kind of leadership they are going to provide to the Palestinian movement," Prince Faisal said.

"We are not prejudging or putting conditions on them."

The European Union warned on Friday it would cut funding for a Hamas-led government if it failed to renounce violence and recognise Israel.

On a recent tour, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice attempted, without success, to persuade Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to cut funding for the new Hamas-led Palestinian government.

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