Hamas and Fatah in unity talks, says Khaled Meshaal

Khaled Meshaal tells the BBC: 'We are moving ahead in our reconciliation efforts'

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has told the BBC he is in talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas about forming a national unity government.

Mr Meshaal also said preparations were being made for presidential and parliamentary elections.

The split between the militant group and Mr Abbas's Fatah party has led to Palestinian elections being postponed for several years.

Hamas controls Gaza while Fatah remains dominant in the West Bank.

In May 2011 the two Palestinian factions signed a reconciliation deal but it has not yet been implemented.

However, in recent months there have been signs of a closer relationship between the two.

"We are forging ahead with the reconciliation," Mr Meshaal told the BBC's Hardtalk programme.

"We are consulting about forming a government of national accord. Preparations for presidential, parliamentary and executive council elections are under way. We are reinvigorating the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) and organising its meetings until new national council and executive committee are elected."

In relation to Syria - a long-time ally of Hamas - Mr Meshaal said the party had been forced out of Damascus because it disagreed with how President Bashar al-Assad was dealing with the conflict.

"There is no doubt that we have disagreed with the Syrian regime on the manner with which they managed the crisis, and their resorting to the security-military option," he said.

"The massacre taking place in Syria pains us very much. We were forced to leave Damascus even though the regime used to support us. We also had differences with Iran on what goes on in Syria."

He added: "We are keen on having good relations with all countries of the Arab and Muslim community, and the international community, with those who support our cause."

In 2006 Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections, sparking a bitter conflict with Fatah.

Clashes erupted in Gaza between the two factions and Hamas violently forced Fatah from Gaza in June 2007.

Hamas is designated a terrorist group by Israel, the US and EU due to its long record of attacks and its refusal to renounce violence.

But its supporters say it is a legitimate resistance movement and a democratically elected government.

Correction: This report has been amended to remove a line saying that Khaled Meshaal said President Assad continued to support Hamas.

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