"PARIS — France confirmed on Monday that it has been engaged in contacts with the leaders of Hamas, the radical Islamic group that is running Gaza, for several months to try to better understand its positions.
The Bush administration, which recently likened talks with Hamas to appeasement of the Nazis, quickly criticized the French for the contacts, calling them unhelpful.
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (above) emphasized that there were no negotiations with Hamas, labeled a terrorist group by the United States, Israel and the European Union.
'These are not relations, they are contacts,' Mr. Kouchner said on Europe1 radio. 'We are not the only ones to have them,' he said. 'We must be able to talk if we want to play a role.'"
-- Steven Erlanger, writing for the New York Times