Hamas leader in Jordan to attend father's funeral

Khalid MashaalAmman - Politburo chief of the Palestinian Hamas group Khalid Mashaal travelled from Damascus to Jordan Saturday to attend the burial of his father, who died in the Jordanian capital Friday.

Mashaal's first trip to Amman in a decade came after King Abdullah II allowed his entry to the country "for purely humanitarian considerations", according to an official statement.

The Hamas leader led the funeral procession of his father in Amman's neighbourhood of Suwaileh with the participation of about 2,000 of the group's supporters, including leaders of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood movement, a close Hamas ally.

The Amman Municipality set up a tent to allow the Hamas leader to receive condolences for his father, Abdul Rahim Mashaal, who was 91.

Mashaal and four Hamas leaders, all holding Jordanian nationality, were deported from Jordan to Qatar in 1999 after the Jordanian government decided to close down the group's offices in Amman.

Jordan recognizes the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas as the representative of the Palestinian people.

The Jordanian government held a series of discussions with Hamas officials in Amman at the end of 2008 in what local reports said was an attempt to establish balanced ties with the key components of the Palestinian people, but the talks appeared to have achieved little.

Although Jordanian officials said Mashaal's visit had "no political connotations", local reports suggested that Jordan could be interested in giving a hand to Egypt in its endeavours to bring about a reconciliation between Hamas and its rival Fatah group.(dpa)