Malaysian premier in 1st visit to Hamas-ruled Gaza

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Associated Press

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 22 at 9:36 AM

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The Malaysian prime minister visited the Gaza Strip Tuesday in a political boost for the territory's once internationally isolated rulers from the Islamic militant Hamas.

During his first-ever visit to the territory, Najib Razak was meeting with Hamas politicians, touring sites bombed by Israeli forces and visiting a school funded by his majority-Muslim nation in Southeast Asia.

The West has branded Hamas, which seized Gaza in 2007, as a terror organization. The Arab Spring uprisings that brought Islamists to power in parts of the region also enabled Hamas to break out of its isolation.

In October, the leader of resource-rich Qatar became the first head of state to visit Gaza. Hamas has also forged closer ties in the past two years with regional powerhouses Egypt and Turkey.

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