EU Observer (Link) - Andrew Rettman (September 14, 2009)
High-ranking officials from European countries hold talks with Hamas on a weekly basis despite an EU ban on diplomatic contact, a spokesman for the group has told EUobserver.
"We meet a lot of them from France, from Spain, from Germany, from Italy, from England, from Luxembourg. When they listen to us and we spend a couple of hours with them, they understand what is the real image of Hamas," the group's spokesman, Ghazi Hamad, told this website in a telephone interview on Saturday (12 September).
"None of them are ministers in their governments ... some of them are ambassadors. Some are assistants to ambassadors," he said. "Some of them are very close to the president of their country, or to the foreign minister."
Any high-level European visits would go against the spirit of a 2006 EU decision to halt talks with the militant organisation. The EU in 2003 also listed Hamas as a terrorist entity, putting a legal block on financial assistance.
"I can't give any names," Mr Hamad said. "Most of them want to keep it a secret. They want to continue contact but they don't want to be pestered by the Israeli authorities when they come."