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Hamas leader says he has been invited to Moscow

November 28, 2018

File - In this Friday, Oct. 12, 2018 file photo, Ismail Haniyeh Palestinian Hamas top leader waves to protesters during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel. Haniyeh's office says he has received an invitation to make an official visit to Moscow.(AP Photo/Khalil Hamra, File)

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The top leader of the Hamas militant group says he has received an invitation to make an official visit to Moscow.

The office of Ismail Haniyeh said the invitation was delivered Wednesday by a visiting Russian diplomat. Its statement did not elaborate on the purpose of the visit.

Russia maintains high-level contact with Hamas, which Israel, the U.S. and the European Union classify as a terrorist group.

Haniyeh was elected as Hamas’ top leader last year. His predecessor, Khaled Mashaal, visited Moscow frequently.

In 2007, a year after winning parliamentary elections, Hamas drove out the Western-backed Palestinian Authority from Gaza and took over the coastal enclave.

Russia has hosted several rounds of talks aimed at forging reconciliation between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.

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