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Hamas on Monday hailed calls by Italian Prime Minister Ramoni Prodi for the West to open dialogue with them, in spite of a western embargo on diplomatic dealings with the militant Islamic group.

Prodi, who was addressing a conference in Italy, said that Hamas' existence was a fact and that the group must be integrated into the political process rather than excluded.

"We received Mr. Prodi's statements with care and appreciation," Hamas' spokesman in the Gaza Strip, Sami Abu Zuhri, said in a statement. "Prodi's statements coincide with other positive European officials statements."

Abu Zuhri also noted criticism by several British parliamentarians of London's negative position towards Hamas.

"Such positive stances came after Europe and the West realized how fatal their mistake was when they decided to boycott the movement," said Abu Zuhri.

Hamas movement took control of the Gaza Strip in mid June after its militants defeated Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas?s Fatah party and his security forces.

"We hope that the calls to launch a dialogue with Hamas would find an echo and would lead to fruitful results," Abu Zuhri said. "We reiterate our concerns and readiness for an opened dialogue with the West."