Thursday, February 19, 2009

US Sen. Kerry goes to Gaza Strip, avoids Hamas

Sen. John Kerry came to the Gaza Strip on Thursday, the highest-level visit by a U.S. official since the Hamas militant group seized power in the territory nearly two years ago.

Kerry did not meet with anyone from Hamas, which the U.S. shuns as a terrorist group, and used the visit to urge the group to end its violent campaign against Israel.

However, the presence of the Massachusetts senator and former Democratic presidential nominee was a possible harbinger of a new U.S. approach in the region.

Since taking office last month, President Barack Obama has said he wants to improve America's ties with the Muslim world. Kerry is considered close to Obama, and a separate visit to Gaza by Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim congressman, was another possible sign of a new U.S. approach.