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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hamas Leader on 3-Day Visit

Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal was to arrive late Sunday for a three-day visit, the Foreign Ministry said.

During Mashaal's visit, Russia planned to continue its efforts "toward stabilizing the situation in the Palestinian territories and overcoming the inter-Palestinian discord that followed the Mecca agreement between Hamas and Fatah," the ministry said in a statement Thursday.

Russia also wanted to help in the forming of a Palestinian national-unity government "that takes into consideration the well-known criteria of the Quartet, and also the resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue," the ministry said.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, confirmed the upcoming trip, saying its aim was to "market the Mecca agreement and garner support for it."

Mashaal is currently in Cairo to discuss the agreement, and Egyptian efforts to organize an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier held for seven months by Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas.

Mashaal's trip would be his second to Moscow in a year. A high-level delegation met with Russian officials in March 2005 -- a trip that irked Israel, broke the international isolation of the militant group and was widely seen as a bid by President Vladimir Putin to activate Russia's role in the Middle East peace process.

Russia is a member of the Quartet, which also includes the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

Meeting Wednesday in Berlin, the group's representatives offered no breakthroughs in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a statement. But officials committed to keep trying.

Later Thursday, Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke by telephone at Israel's request to discuss the results of the Berlin meeting. The Kremlin said the two leaders exchanged opinions on the prospects for resolving the situation in the Middle East.