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Russia awaits U.S. explanation on military buildup in Mideast-FM

RIA Novosti

27/01/2007 15:25 MOSCOW, January 27 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow expects the United States to explain its growing military presence in the Middle East, Russia's foreign minister said Saturday.

"I have not seen any change in Washington's rather assertive tone," Sergei Lavrov said. "It continues, as [the U.S.] continues to build its military presence in the region."

Lavrov will travel to Washington early next month to attend a ministerial meeting of four international mediators in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

At the Washington meeting, the UN will be represented by the organization's new secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, while Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany, which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency, will represent the 27-nation bloc.

The latest Mideast Quartet ministerial meeting took place on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly session in New York in September 2006.

The participants expressed their support for efforts by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to form a national unity government and urged radical Islamist movement Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and implement the 2003 "roadmap" peace plan, which provides for a two-state solution to the Mideast conflict.

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