Hamas leader Meshaal in Saudi

RIYADH – Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal met Saudi officials in Riyadh on Monday as part of a Saudi bid to mediate the return of Gaza, under Israeli blockade, to Palestinian Authority control, Saudi and Palestinian officials said.

The Syria-based leader of Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip, held talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal after arriving in Riyadh on Sunday night, a Saudi source said.

Arab efforts are under way to return control of the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt to the Fatah group of Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Thousands of Palestinians have breached the border in recent days to stock up on supplies because of an Israeli blockade of the territory, which Hamas took sole control of last year after fighting broke out with Fatah.

“This is in the framework of ongoing Saudi mediation (seeking) the return of legitimate authority to Gaza and security arrangements. I think he (Meshaal) has come with a response to these issues,” said Jamal al-Shobaki, the head of the Palestinian diplomatic delegation in Riyadh.

There has been no mention of Meshaal’s trip in the Saudi state media and it was not clear if he would meet King Abdullah.

In a meeting in Cairo on Sunday, Arab foreign ministers welcomed a proposal by Abbas to retake control of the Gaza-Egypt border. Hamas, opposed by Israel and the United States, is sending a delegation to Egypt on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

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