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Talks begin on Palestinian unity government

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Saturday announced the start of talks on forming a national unity government, the official WAFA news agency said.

The announcement came on the last day of the statutory two-week period after the April 13 resignation of prime minister Salam Fayyad from the Palestinian Authority that governs the West Bank.

The consultations will take place "in accordance with the Doha Declaration and the timetable set up by the Palestinian leadership in meetings in Cairo on the reactivation of the Palestine Liberation Organisation" in February, Abbas told WAFA on a visit to Italy.

Abbas urged all Palestinian movements to cooperate so he can issue two decrees, one on forming a unity government "composed of two independent personalities" and a second fixing a date for elections, WAFA reported.

Sami Abu Zuhri, spokesman for the Islamist Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip, told AFP that "any government must be formed in accordance with the reconciliation agreement and in consultation and agreement with Hamas."

"There has been no consultation with Hamas on this matter so far," Abu Zuhri said, warning against "any unilateral steps".

The reconciliation agreements signed in Cairo in 2011 and in the Qatari capital Doha in February last year between Hamas and Abbas's secular Fatah, have not been applied for the most part.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130427/talks-begin-palestinian-unity-government