France refuses entry visas to Hamas members

3rd May 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 3, 2006 (AFP) - France on Wednesday refused entry visas to two senior members of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, with which the European Union has suspended political contacts, the foreign ministry said.

PARIS, May 3, 2006 (AFP) - France on Wednesday refused entry visas to two senior members of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, with which the European Union has suspended political contacts, the foreign ministry said.

The officials are Salah Muhammad al-Bardawil, spokesman for the Hamas parliamentary group, and Hamas member Mohammad al-Rantissi, ministry spokesman Denis Simonneau told AFP.

"We decided, after consulting our European partners, not to issue visas for Mr Rantissi and Mr Bardawil, while awaiting the definition of a common European position on this matter," he said.

The French government last month refused an entry visa to Palestinian planning minister Samir Abu Eisheh, who had been due to attend a conference in the French capital.

EU foreign ministers are due to discuss the bloc's relations with Hamas, which rose to power in the Palestinian territories in a landslide election victory in January, at a meeting on May 15, Simonneau said.

The EU is part of the Mideast peace quartet along with the United States, the United Nations and Russia, and is demanding that Hamas renounce violence, recognise Israel and meet all commitments made by previous Palestinian governments.

The biggest aid donor to the Palestinians with an average 500 million euros (620 million dollars) annually, the EU confirmed earlier this month the suspension of direct payments to the Hamas-led government.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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