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Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Sunday met with exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshal in Damascus, for the second time this year.

The meeting was part of Carter's regional discussions on Middle East conflicts.

Officials from the anti-Israel Hamas kept reporters away from the venue and no news conference was scheduled.

Carter first met with Meshal, Hamas' political leader, in April. That meeting drew sharp criticism from the Bush administration, which labels Hamas a terrorist group and contends such meetings give credibility to hard-line militants.

Carter said on Saturday, however, that he intends to continue meeting with Hamas leaders because peace requires dialogue with all sides.