Hamas leader Meshaal talks with President Abbas during their meeting in Cairo
Hamas leader Meshaal talks with President Abbas during their meeting in Cairo Reuters

Despite the unrest in the Egyptian capital, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal met in Cairo as scheduled to implement a unity agreement on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after a two-hour talk, the leaders insisted they have put their rivalry behind and are now ready to open a new chapter when it comes to the relationship between Hamas and Fatha.

"We want to assure our people and the Arab and Islamic world that we have turned a major new and real page in partnership on everything do to with the Palestinian nation," Mashaal said.

"There are no more differences between us now," continued Abbas, the head of the Fatah movement.

The Palestinian President said the talks had been comprehensive, and had covered "all details about reconciliation." "You will see all of this in the coming days and weeks," he added..

Mashaal backed Abbas comment, saying the two parties are ready to work hand in hand.

"Everyone should be confident and wait for developments on the ground, and not just words.

"The atmosphere is positive and we hope our people and all the factions will help us to achieve the best interest of our cause," WAFA, the Palestinian Authority official news agency quotes him as saying.

It is the first time Abbas and Mashaal, the leaders of the two main Palestinian political factions have met since they signed a reconciliation deal in Cairo in May.

If implemented the agreement should see the formation of a unity government to prepare for national elections within 12 months.

The deal aimed at ending years of political rivalry which saw the Palestinians split into separate administrations in 2007. While Hamas ruled the Gaza strip, Fatah dominated the government in the West bank.

Little progress seemed to be made after the announcement of the unity deal in May, prompting sceptics to cast doubts over the reconciliation process but Thursday Abbas and Mashaal put on a united front.

"We very much want to work as partners and we have a joint responsibility toward our people and cause," Abbas said while Mashaal added that the meeting had "opened a new page of a high level of understanding, concern for partnership and seriousness in implementing not only the terms of the reconciliation agreement, but all that has to do with organizing and dealing with the present and future stages."

Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad and Hamas delegate Izzat al-Rishq later said in a joint press conference that the two leaders had come to an agreement on issues such freeing political detainees, creating a positive environment for elections, and promoting popular resistance against Israeli occupation and settlements.

Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas Spokesperson also told the satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera that the meeting had launched a new phase in the history of the Palestinian cause and people.

Hamas and Fatah are set to meet again in Cairo on December 15, officials said. During their next meeting the leaders are expected to agree on a date for the national elections.