A deputy says Gaza's prime minister is leaving on his first official trip outside the territory since the militant Hamas movement overran the coastal strip in June 2007.
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh's deputy, Mohammed Awwad, said on Sunday the Gaza leader will visit Egypt, Sudan, Qatar, Bahrain, Tunisia and Turkey — all countries that have been affected by the upheavals sweeping the Arab world.
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Awwad says Haniyeh's objective is to discuss development projects. He didn't say how long the trip would last. Haniyeh has been confined to Gaza, in part because of tensions with Egypt.
But Egypt's new rulers have warmed up to Hamas since longtime President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February.
On Saturday, Haniyeh thanked Egypt for leading the reconciliation talks between his group and Fatah.
"We want to continue the positive dialogue with Fatah," he said. "Practical measures, such as releasing all political prisoners who are held by both sides, must be taken."
Earlier this month, the Hamas leader said the terror group's preferred strategic option is armed resistance until "Palestine is liberated from the sea to the river."
Speaking at an event marking 24 years since the Islamist group was founded, Haniyeh said, "Hamas will lead, along with the people, the stubborn resistance, intifada after intifada, until we liberate Palestine."
AFP and Elior Levy contributed to this report
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