GAZA, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Islamic Hamas movement on Sunday slammed the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Israel and the West Bank, calling it as useless and a waste of time.
Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman in Gaza said in a written statement sent to reporters that the visit of Rice and her meetings with Palestinian officials "won't bring anything good for the Palestinian people."
"Rice came to the region to exert pressure on President (Mahmoud) Abbas and to spoil the efforts aiming at launching a Palestinian comprehensive dialogue," said Barhoum.
Abbas on June 4 called for launching a comprehensive dialogue among all Palestinian political groups, including Fatah and Hamas. The latter's leaders welcomed Abbas call and said the movement was ready for a dialogue anytime and anywhere.
Rice, who met with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in Jerusalem earlier Sunday, arrived in Ramallah and held talks with Prime Minister of the caretaker government Salam Fayyad. She will meet later with Abbas.
Rice arrives to the region late Saturday, her sixth visit this year to follow up the progress of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed last November with the U.S. mediation, which are intended to end with the creation of a Palestinian statehood alongside Israel.
However, just days prior to her visit, Israel announced a plan to build 1,300 new houses for Jewish settlers in east Jerusalem, anew blow to the peace talks.
"Rice is leading a very dangerous project in the region that serves the interests of the U.S. foreign policy which is based on reinforcing split and division among Arab and Moslem nations," said Barhoum.
He said that President Abbas "is now standing before a new test to confront such challenges and pressures," adding "He (Abbas) should always keep in mind the highest interests of his people and their legal cause."