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Dealing with Hamas24:43
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Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is in the Middle East today, tackling the delicate issue of Hamas. It may be her toughest assignment yet. Since it won parliamentary elections last month, the militant Palestinian group has represented a vexing problem for American diplomats and a challenge to the Bush Administration's efforts to spread democracy in the region.

The U.S. can't negotiate with Hamas because it's on Washington's list of terrorist organizations. But nor can Washington ignore it — or be seen as undermining the winner of a free and fair election that the U.S. supported. It's a tricky diplomatic game indeed — and how Washington plays it could have wide-ranging effects on the prospects for Middle East peace.

But some say the pressure now is on Hamas to deliver effective government to the Palestinian people - and therein lies a delicate opportunity for real political progress.

Hear how the U.S. confronts the Hamas victory.

Guests:

Simon Wilson, Editor of the BBC's Middle East Bureau in Jerusalem

Robert Malley, Middle East and North Africa Program Director for the International Crisis Group, in Washington DC, Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs from 1998-2001

Rami Khouri, Editor at Large of Beirut Daily Star Newspaper

Danielle Pletka,
Vice President for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC

This program aired on February 21, 2006.

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