From the very good cartoonist, Gary Varvel
(CBS/AP) Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter met a Hamas delegation from Gaza Thursday, part of a series of talks with the Islamic militant group that has drawn sharp criticism from U.S. and Israeli officials.
Carter spoke with Hamas officials in the West Bank Wednesday and angered Israelis when he embraced one of them. He plans to meet the group’s exiled political chief, Khaled Mashaal, in Damascus, Syria on Friday.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate who brokered Israel’s historic peace agreement with Egypt three decades ago is on what he calls a private peace mission. He contends the U.S., Israel and other Western states should stop isolating Hamas if they want peace efforts to succeed.
An Associated Press reporter saw the Hamas delegation with about 15 members heading into the meeting at a Cairo hotel and a Hamas coordinator in Egypt confirmed they were meeting with Carter. The coordinator spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The meeting was closed to the media and held under heavy security shortly after Carter and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met and then had lunch together with their wives. The former president is scheduled to give a speech and a news conference later Thursday at the American University of Cairo.