Hamas leader ends 'successful' visit to Egypt

CAIRO (AP) " Hamas, the ruling Palestinian movement of the Gaza Strip, concluded a "successful" visit to Egypt on Friday, according to Egypt's state-run news agency, the first visit by the group's top leader in over three years.

Hamas top official Ismail Haniyeh and his delegation departed Egypt to return to Gaza after talks with the country's security and political authorities, including intelligence chief Khaled Fawzy, Egypt's MENA reported. The two sides discussed Israel's blockade of Gaza, Palestinian reconciliation and the lingering power outage in the strip.

The agency quoted Hamas' statement as saying the talks will have "positive results" on the situation in Gaza. It said that the delegation stressed that it doesn't interfere in Egypt's internal affairs.

"The Egyptian brothers have presented a comprehensive vision on all issues ... such vision will have positive results on the Egyptian and the Palestinian people," it said.

The agency gave no further details on future arrangements. But Haniyah posted on his Twitter saying after arriving in Gaza that the relations with Egypt will witness "paradigm shifts."

Egypt's relations with Hamas deteriorated since the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood group, Hamas' mother movement. Authorities accused the group of supporting militants to carry out attacks in Egypt.

For most of the past decade, Egypt has been a quiet partner with Israel in the blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza, stifling the economy and largely blocking its 2 million people from moving in and out of the territory.

In recent months, Cairo has increased the number of people allowed to exit through the Rafah border crossing, Gaza's main gateway to the outside world. It also has begun to allow Gaza to import commercial goods through Rafah for the first time since 2013, and sent public signals that it is interested in improving relations.

Haniyeh left Gaza in September to perform the Hajj pilgrimage in Mecca " the first time Egypt allowed him to leave the territory since Morsi's ouster. He then went to Qatar to see Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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