New Palestinian PM Abu Mazen Meets Hamas, Islamic Jihad

The Palestinian Authority's first Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) met Sunday night with militant Islamic leaders from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, part of a series of encounters with political factions since he took on the office earlier this month.

The three-hour meeting came the same day that 58 Israelis were injured in a suicide bomb attack on a cafe in the northern Israeli town of Netanya. The armed wing of the radical Islamic Jihad - one of the groups Abu Mazen met with Sunday - claimed responsibility for the attack.

But the issue of suicide bombings was not particularly discussed on Sunday, representatives said. "During the meeting, Abu Mazen presented his own views concerning many issues related to the living circumstances of the Palestinian people," Hamas spokesman Abdel Aziz Rantisi told reporters. "We also expressed our own views about the situation."

Rantisi said the meeting was not aimed at reaching any agreement, and said the two sides did not tackle any single issue. He said the concentration was on the major interests of the Palestinian people. "The atmosphere of the meeting was very frank and clear in presenting all the issues that are interesting to the Palestinian people," said Rantisi.

It was not clear when the leaders would next meet, although further sessions were planned. As the meeting with the Hamas delegation ended, a Islamic Jihad delegation entered Abu Mazen's office for a separate meeting.