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Abbas: Arafat Will Remain Palestinian President

Arafat Is, Will Remain Legitimate President of Palestinian People: Abbas

Palestinian, Russian Views Identical, Says PNA after Talks with Ivanov

Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas (Abu Mazen) reconfirmed Sunday that Yasser Arafat is and will remain the legitimate and elected President of the Palestinian people, and called on Israel to let him travel freely, amid an Israeli campaign to sideline the Palestinian leader.

“This is an established view of the Palestinian people that will not change and it is the view of many of our friends worldwide. What concerns us is our view and the view of our friends,” he said in a joint press conference with the visiting Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov in Ramallah.

Ivanov on Sunday defied an Israeli boycott of foreign officials who meet with Arafat and was received by the Palestinian leader in his battered headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Arafat warmly welcomed the Russian foreign minister, hailed the strong and historic relations between Palestine and Russia and asked him to convey the Palestinian people’s appreciation of Russia’s policies to President Vladimir Putin.

Ivanov is on a five-day visit to the Middle East aiming to step up Russia’s role in the peace process and to discuss the idea of international forces deployment to monitor the implementation of the US-sponsored “roadmap.”

Arafat in a joint press conference with Ivanov Sunday urged the Quartet of the US, UN, EU and Russian diplomatic mediators, who drafted and adopted the “roadmap” peace plan, to secure the implementation of the plan by sending international monitors quickly.

“We hope the implementation will be under their direct supervision, but the implementation of what was agreed upon (the roadmap) is slow, which requires rapid action by the Quartet,” Arafat said.

“Hence we hope the Quartet will quickly send international monitors and will at the same time start the strict and honest implementation of the roadmap on the ground,” he added.

Ivanov on his part called on both the Palestinian and Israeli parties to strictly respect the “roadmap” stipulations and confirmed that the Palestinian leadership will implement all the stipulations of the “roadmap” plan.

Separately, PM Abbas affirmed that “the Russian position is clear in supporting the implementation of the (Road) Map without any change thereto in text or in spirit,” he said in his joint press conference with Ivanov.

The Russians “are working hard” towards this goal and “want to achieve results,” in the implementation of the Quartet’s peace plan, Abbas added.

Abbas and Ivanov discussed the implementation of the first stage of the “roadmap.”

“We reviewed the points we are talking about with the Israelis, the most important of which are the issue of (Palestinian) detainees, the (illegal Jewish) settlement activity, the (Apartheid) separation wall, the (Israeli) roadblocks, and the necessity of releasing brother Abu Ammar (President Arafat) and to allow him to travel and depart wherever and whenever he wants,” PM Abbas announced.

The Palestinian PM said he talked with Ivanov also on ending the first stage of the “roadmap” as soon as possible in order to move to the second and third stages, confirming that bilateral views “were identical.”

“We talked on the possible conclusion of the first stage of the roadmap as soon as possible then to move to the second and third stages, cooperation in the peace process among concerned nations particularly the Russian federation, the European Union, the United Nations and the United States,” he said, adding: “Our views were identical and we are in harmony in our political positions because our political vision is the same.”

“We know that the Russian Federation fully supports the creation of an independent Palestinian state in 2005,” he said, indicating at the same time that Palestinian-Russian relations are “at their best and have never suffered any crisis.”

Ivonov similarly indicated “the good and very old” bilateral relations, but highlighted at the same time “the increasing ties with Israel, based on mutual respect, trust and expanding ties,” which “opens additional opportunities to increase the Russian role in the Palestinian – Israeli peace process.”

Russia welcomes more Palestinian – Israeli agreements on further IOF withdrawals from Palestinian Territory in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, now that the Palestine National Authority (PNA) has assumed its security responsibilities, Ivanov said.


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