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Tuomioja: Hamas Mediation Offer Encouraging

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja says be believes that the radical Palestianian organization Hamas could play a role in settling the dispute over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal told a press conference last week that Hamas is prepared to play a role in calming the situation between the Islamic world and western countries on condition that the western countries involved commit themselves to putting an end to attacks against the sensitivities of Muslims.

Commenting during a YLE television discussion on Sunday, Foreign Minister Tuomioja did say he has a cynical view of a Hamas offer to mediate. However, he went on to describe the organization's new more peaceful role as "encouraging".

He added that while he does not believe that Hamas will be the prime mediator, it must be an important party in this dialogue aimed as ending the violence. Tuomioja also considered it positive that Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last week that he is inviting Hamas leaders to Moscow.

Early last week, Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen travelled to Kuwait yesterday to meet with the country's new emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al Sabah. where the two leaders discussed the recent uproar over the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, and how to restore peace between western nations and the Islamic world. Vanhanen expressed concern that the incident will have long-lasting repercussions.

Meanwhile a small Finnish radical nationalist group has posted the cartoons originally published in Denmark on its internet website.

The group, called Suomen Sisu, says that the move is intended as a protest against the Swedish government. Last week, an internet provider shut down the website of a small nationalist party in Sweden which had posted the cartoons.

Sweden's security police said that they had contacted the service provider concerning the drawings, but had not pressured it to close the site.

So far, the original cartoons which have caused the uproar have not been published by the Finnish print media.


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