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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 12:44 GMT 13:44 UK
Sinn Fein president meets Hamas
Gerry Adams at the tomb of Yasser Arafat
Gerry Adams laid a wreath at the tomb of Yasser Arafat
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has met members of the militant group Hamas in the Palestinian parliament.

On the second day of his visit to the Middle East, Mr Adams laid a wreath at the tomb of the former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Earlier, he was met by members of the Palestinian Authority and travelled to the compound where President Arafat was once besieged by the Israelis.

He was invited to the region by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Mr Adams had been scheduled to meet Mr Abbas personally, but he has been called away unexpectedly.

On Tuesday, the Sinn Fein leader travelled in a presidential-style motorcade with government officials.

He was also taken on a tour of the West Bank, where he was shown the controversial security wall which the Israeli government is building in the area.

The Israeli government has refused to hold talks with Mr Adams because he is meeting with Hamas.

'Peaceful resolution'

On Tuesday, during a news conference in Jerusalem Mr Adams said the aim of his visit was "to encourage the search for a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

"The Anglo-Irish conflict was once labelled as intractable. Talk of peace and of peace processes was dismissed as nonsense, as fantasy. But we proved the pessimists and cynics wrong," he said.

The West Belfast MP said that Israelis and Palestinians had more to gain from peace than continuing conflict.

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson said he was "really delighted" when the Israelis said they would not meet Mr Adams.

"He has gone out there, he is meeting Hamas, which is a listed terrorist organisation. I just condemn it," he said.

""I think it is a ploy on his part and I fear we are going to see an awful lot more of these PR exercises by the Sinn Fein leadership as you go into the Irish elections next year."

Hamas, which forms the current Palestinian administration, is banned by the EU and US.

Earlier this year, the US and EU froze aid to the Palestinian Authority because Hamas has refused to renounce violence and recognise Israel.

Israel has been conducting military operations in the coastal Gaza Strip since Palestinian militants captured an Israeli soldier in June.


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