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Russia to support Palestinians, urge blockade lifted - FM Lavrov

RIA Novosti

27/02/2007 13:08 MOSCOW, February 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will support the Palestinians and push for an international economic blockade for the Palestinian National Authority to be lifted, the Russian foreign minister said at a meeting with Hamas' political leader in Moscow Tuesday.

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas is visiting Moscow against the backdrop of a deadlock in peace talks with Israel and bloody inter-factional clashes in Palestinian lands, and in the wake of a series of international meetings on the Middle East conflict.

"The participants at the Mecca meeting displayed wisdom, prudence and - most importantly - responsibility towards the Palestinian people, and we actively support this movement and are trying to ensure that the whole international community back this process, and assist [the PNA] in the lifting of the blockade for Palestinian territories," Sergei Lavrov said.

Lavrov said Russia backed the idea to establish a national unity government for the PNA from the very beginning in May 2006, and that Russia has consistently supported specific steps and measures to promote the process.

Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas-led Fatah movement agreed to form a power-sharing Cabinet in Mecca two weeks ago, ending weeks of bloody street clashes between their supporters.

Lavrov said a deal reached between Fatah and Hamas in Mecca paves the way for the resumption of talks on the Middle East peace process.

"The meeting in Mecca is important because it paves the way for the resumption of talks on the Middle East peace process," Lavrov said at a meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.

Mashaal said the most important achievement of the Mecca talks was that Arab and Muslim countries shared responsibility for the resolution of the Palestinian problem.

"I believe it is very important that the Mecca agreements reflect the responsibility of Muslim and Arab countries in the resolution of the Palestinian problem," he said.

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