Ahmad Yousuf, Hamas leader
Ismail Haniyeh's political advisor, said that during the recent US presidential race a secret meeting between senior Islamist group figures and advisors to President-elect Barack Obama was held in Gaza.
"We were in contact with a number of Obama's aides through the Internet, and later met with some of them in Gaza, but they advised us not to come out with any statements, as they may have a negative effect on his election campaign and be used by Republican candidate John McCain (to attack Obama)," Yousuf said in an interview with London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat, published Tuesday
Yousuf said Hamas's contact with Obama's advisors was ongoing, adding that he was still on good terms with some of the aides he had befriended while residing in the US.
According to Yousuf, Haniyeh will send Obama a telegram congratulating him on his victory.
"The policy Obama will instate in the Middle East will differ from that of his predecessor George W. Bush, although it is clear that the region and the Palestinian issue will not be at the top of his agenda," Yousef told Al-Hayat, "(the president-elect) will focus more on the economic crisis, Iraq and Afghanistan."