Former President Jimmy Carter is reportedly preparing an unprecedented meeting with the leader of Hamas, an organization that the U.S. government considers one of the leading terrorist threats in the world.
The Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported Tuesday that Carter was planning a trip to Syria for mid-April, during which he would meet with Khaled Meshal, the exiled head of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, on April 18.
Deanna Congileo, Carter’s press secretary, confirmed in an e-mail to FOXNews.com that Carter will be in the Mideast in April. Pressed for comment, Congileo did not deny that the former president is considering visiting Meshal.
“President Carter is planning a trip to the Mideast next week; however, we are still confirming details of the trip and will issue a press release by the end of this week,” wrote Congileo. “I cannot confirm any specific meetings at this point in time.” . . .
Carter would be the first Western leader of his stature to meet with the Hamas chief. Though Meshal met with Clinton officials in the 1990s, the Bush administration has sought to isolate Hamas, enforcing rigid sanctions on its government in Gaza and refusing to meet with its leaders unless it recognizes Israel and abandons terror. . .
But Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a non-profit advocacy group, said Carter’s efforts demonstrate he’s a true partner in peace.
“I think if true, this report would indicate that President Carter is willing to travel any road in search of peace,” he said. “I think President Carter would only undertake such a mission if he believed that something could be achieved in terms of peace and reconciliation in the region.”
Hooper added that because of Carter’s reputation among Palestinians he might be able to bring some pressure to bear.
“Obviously President Carter has a great amount of credibility in the region because of his past efforts seeking peace internationally,” Hooper said.