The former US president, who brokered the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace deal, has long advocated engagement with the militant Hamas movement as crucial for progress on peace.
Following the talks, Carter called for an end of "all violence" against both Israelis and Palestinians.
"This is holy land for us all and my hope is that we can have peace... all of us are children of Abraham," he said at a joint news conference with Haniya, prime minister of the Hamas government in the Palestinian enclave.
Carter was expected to pass on a letter from the parents of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier seized by Gaza militants including Hamas in a cross-border raid almost three years ago, and who remains in captivity. Hamas did not confirm whether it would pass the letter on to Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive since 2006.
Carter condemned "deliberate" destruction in Israel's January offensive, but also expressed sadness over Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli towns.
"My primary feeling today is one of grief and despair and an element of anger when I see the destruction perpetrated against innocent people," Carter said as he toured the impoverished territory.
"Tragically, the international community too often ignores the cries for help and the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than like human beings," he said.
"The starving of 1.5 million human beings of the necessities of life -- never before in history has a large community like this been savaged by bombs and missiles and then denied the means to repair itself," Carter said at a UN school graduation ceremony in Gaza City.
According to Palestinian sources, Hamas has foiled an attempt by Palestinian militants to attack the former U.S. president during his visit to the Gaza Strip. Militants linked with Al-Qaida planted two roadside bombs at a border crossing between Gaza and Israel with the intent of striking Carter's vehicle on his way out of the coastal territory. Witnesses reported seeing Hamas forces patrolling near the Erez crossing and detonating the explosives.
Hamas Interior Ministry spokesman Ihab al-Rassin denied the reports, however, saying the group's forces had engaged in routine activity and had no information of an assassination attempt.
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