GAZA CITY: Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal's visit to Cairo is not connected to any talks over the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a senior Hamas official said on Wednesday.
"There is no connection between his visit and Shalit," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Gaza's Hamas rulers.
Meshaal, the Islamist movement's Damascus-based leader, arrived on Cairo on Tuesday, for what press reports suggested was a new round of indirect talks with Israel over a prisoner swap deal to secure the release of Shalit in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian inmates.
Officials in Israel and Egypt refused to confirm the report which was first published by the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, although Israel's defense minister on Tuesday said there was "a grain of truth" in it.
Abu Zuhri said Meshaal would meet with Egyptian intelligence chief Murad Muwafi and Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr later on Tuesday for talks on bilateral ties as well as on the reconciliation deal between Hamas and its Fatah rivals, which was signed three months ago but has not been implemented.
"They will discuss several files, especially the political file and the Palestinian reconciliation agreement and how to implement it immediately," he said.
A senior source close to the talks between Hamas and the Egyptians also said Meshaal and his deputy, Mussa Abu Marzuk, were "not in Cairo to discuss Shalit."
"Meshaal and Abu Marzuk will not discuss the Shalit file with Egypt or with anyone else," he said, referring to the Israelis.
He said the two sides would also discuss the Egyptian security operation in Sinai, launched last weekend in a bid to clamp down on a surge of militant activity in the region.
"(Meshaal) will also talk with the foreign minister about the Palestinian attempt to get UN membership in September and they will discuss how Hamas can support Abu Mazen in this issue," he said.
He was referring to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas who will personally present the request to the UN next month.
Hamas has paid little heed to the diplomatic campaign led by Abbas to secure UN recognition, not speaking out either for or against.
The decision to seek UN membership comes after direct peace talks with Israel ran aground late last year in an intractable dispute over Jewish settlement construction on occupied Palestinian land.