Russia has invited Ismail Haniyeh, the political chief of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, for a visit, which is scheduled for the beginning of 2019, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Friday.

"We have invited [Haniyeh] and he accepted the invitation with gratitude. [The visit] is likely to take place early next year… Now, the work is ongoing to agree on a date that is convenient for both parties, to form a delegation", Bogdanov said.

The Russian deputy foreign minister also expressed Russia's willingness to convene a meeting between Hamas and its rival Fatah group, the two main political forces in Palestine, to make its contribution to the promotion of national reconciliation between the two sides.

"In our opinion, the priority should be the establishment of the Palestinian national unity… In our view, it is extremely important that Fatah and Hamas together with other Palestinian organizations meet and agree on the restoration of political and geographical unity… We have hosted [such meetings] on numerous occasions and are ready to once again bring them together in Moscow: representatives or heads and deputies," Bogdanov stated.

A violent conflict between Fatah and Hamas started in 2006, after several armed clashes between the Palestinian movements. In October 2017, both sides signed an agreement that stipulated the creation of a united government in the Gaza Strip and in the West Bank no later than 1 December 2017. However, the two parties decided to postpone the implementation of the plan.