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      Hamas Gaza Chief to Visit Iran

      Hamas Gaza-chief Ismail Haniyeh has accepted an invitation from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Tehran.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 1/26/2012, 4:40 PM

      Hamas Gaza-chief Ismail Haniyeh indicated Wednesday he has added Iran to the itinerary of his international tour.

      Hainyeh recently returned from the first leg of his tour to drum of support and funds for Hamas in Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, and Turkey where Islamists have made major political gains in recent polls, especially after the Arab Spring.

      Haniyeh is expected to depart for the Persian Gulf, where he will meet with officials in Qatar, Barain, and Iran, on January 30.

      The addition of Iran to Haniyeh's itinerary comes after Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent Haniyeh a letter on Tuesday congratulating him on the anniversary of Hamas' victory over Fatah in its bloody June 2007 seizure of Gaza.

      In the letter Ahmadinejad also invited Haniyeh to visit Tehran in what is widely seen as an attempt to thaw relations and solidify ties with the terror group after a row over Hamas' open criticism of Iran-allied President Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

      Tehran, which counts the Assad regime as a key ally in its regional axis of power, greatly reduced donations to the Hamas government in Gaza in pique. In the wake of cut Hamas, has also found itself embroiled in a running feud with Shiite competitors in Gaza.

      Hamas has moved to shut down foreign-funded Shiite outreach centers in Gaza in recent months, and has had a series of simmering confrontations with Shiite terror competitors, including Hizbullah.

      Hizbullah has been a staunch proponent of the Assad regime and has been widely accused of sending fighters to aid in quashing protests in the country – a charge Hizbullah denies.