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Russia's Igor Ivanov Meets With Arafat and Abbas

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov Meets with Palestinian National Authority Leaders

On July 13 Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov as part of his visit to the Middle East went to Ramallah where he met with Head of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Yasser Arafat, PNA Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council Ahmed Qrei, PNA Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Shaath and other Palestinian leaders.

A thorough exchange of views on the situation in the Middle East region took place. The main attention was paid to consideration of practical questions pertaining to a Palestinian-Israeli settlement within the framework of the implementation of the Road Map, drafted by the Quartet of international mediators consisting of Russia, the US, EU and UN. The importance of the summits in Sharm El Sheikh and Aqaba, the Quartet ministerial meeting in Jordan, and the direct contacts between Mahmoud Abbas and Ariel Sharon was noted in this context.

Igor Ivanov pointed out that the agreements reached recently on a cease-fire, the pullback of Israeli troops from some Palestinian areas and their placement under PNA control require further development. In this connection he noted that Russia welcomes and supports the efforts of the Abbas government, directed towards the ending of violence and instigation and towards a resumption of the negotiating process with Israel.

In Russia's view, consolidating the positive trends in Israeli-Palestinian settlement and supplementing them with further measures envisaged by the Road Map is crucial now. The question is one of reorganizing and strengthening the power structures of the PNA so that they can effectively counter terrorism, advance Palestinian reforms, adopt a new constitution and hold elections. From the Israeli side the international community expects that it will continue its troop withdrawal to the positions of September 28, 2000, release Palestinian prisoners, lift the blockade of Palestinian cities and put a freeze on settlement activities.

The representatives of the Palestinian leadership addressed a request to Russia jointly with the other Quartet members to assist the restoration of the freedom of movement for Yasser Arafat.

Igor Ivanov stressed that at this, extremely important stage of Israeli-Palestinian settlement, a real chance has appeared to definitively end violence and terror, make the peace process irreversible, and ensure transition to subsequent phases of the Road Map envisaging the termination of the occupation and creation of a sovereign and viable Palestinian state coexisting in peace and security with Israel. Moscow will, both on its own and within the Quartet framework, help the attainment of this objective in every way.

The Palestinian leaders highly evaluated the efforts of Russia, aimed at the resumption of movement towards peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. They spoke out for strengthening the Quartet's role in the settlement process, including for the speediest possible formation of an effective mechanism to monitor the implementation of the Road Map.

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