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Hamas leader heading to Iran

JTA

January 31, 2012 | 3:32 pm

Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, second right, shakes hands with Palestinian lawmaker Jamal al-Khoudary upon his arrival at Rafah Crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on Jan. 10. Photo by REUTERS/ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, second right, shakes hands with Palestinian lawmaker Jamal al-Khoudary upon his arrival at Rafah Crossing in the southern Gaza Strip on Jan. 10. Photo by REUTERS/ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip, will visit Iran.

Haniyeh is going to Tehran at the invitation of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amid reports that relations between Hamas and Iran have soured because of Hamas’ failure to publicly support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on pro-democracy forces.

Haniyeh arrived Monday in Qatar and also will be traveling to Kuwait and Bahrain before visiting Iran. Earlier this month he visited Egypt, Turkey, Sudan and Tunisia—part of Hamas’ bid to identify with the popular protests that have swept the region and to consolidate Muslim support.

Khaled Meshaal, the leader in exile of the terrorist group, met Sunday with Jordan’s King Abdullah.

Hamas wants to re-establish its base in Jordan, but its officials told Meshaal this was not going to happen, the Associated Press reported. Jordan banned the group six years ago for illicit activities, including storing a weapons cache.

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