Top US and British officials urge dialogue with the Hamas terrorist organization

From the Boston Globe:

WASHINGTON - Nine former senior US officials and one current adviser are urging the Obama administration to talk with leaders of Hamas to determine whether the terrorist group can be persuaded to disarm, a major departure from current US policy.

The bipartisan group, which includes economic recovery adviser Paul A. Volcker and former national security advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, made the recommendation in a letter handed to Obama days before he took office, according to Scowcroft.

Talking to Hamas, which the State Department has designated a terrorist organization, would mark a dramatic reversal for the US government. Longstanding US policy has stipulated that before engaging in any talks, Hamas must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and agree to all previous agreements signed by Palestinian negotiators.

"I see no reason not to talk to Hamas," said Scowcroft, who was national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush.

Along with Scowcroft, Volcker, and Brzezinski, who was national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter, signatories included former House International Relations Committee chairman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat; former United Nations ambassador Thomas Pickering from the first Bush administration; former World Bank president James Wolfensohn; former US trade representative in the Ford administration Carla Hills; Theodore Sorensen, former special counsel to President John F. Kennedy; and former Republican senators Chuck Hagel and Nancy Kassebaum Baker.

Meanwhile, other leading foreign policy officials in the United States and in Europe have been calling for deeper international engagement with Hamas.

Michael Ancram, a Conservative Party member of the British Parliament, who has held several meetings with Hamas leaders over the past two years, is urging the British government to engage in "exploratory dialogue" with Hamas.



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