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Israel against proposed Mideast conference in Moscow

RIA Novosti

20/12/2007 15:40 TEL AVIV, December 20 (RIA Novosti) - Israel is against a Russian proposal to hold a Middle East peace conference in the coming months as a follow up to a summit hosted by the U.S. in November, the Haaretz newspaper reported on Thursday.

The newspaper quoted government officials in Jerusalem as highlighting the need to hold bilateral talks with the Palestinians rather than "be dragged onto a slippery slope of opening negotiations on other issues like Syria and Lebanon during the present time."

The newspaper said Israel blocked Russia's proposal from being discussed at a Palestinian donors conference in Paris earlier this week, and said they would employ all diplomatic means to block the summit from taking place.

Israeli officials are reported to be "perturbed by Russia's behavior, chiefly Moscow's delivery of nuclear fuel to the Iranian reactor in Bushehr."

"There are other things that the Russians are doing that we aren't thrilled with," an Israeli official said. "But, at this point, we have no plans to create a crisis."

Russia announced it was ready to hold the next Middle East meeting in Moscow during the Annapolis conference in Maryland. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a schedule and agenda for the meeting still needed to be coordinated and would depend on the progress between Palestinians and Israelis.

At the November conference, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to resume negotiations towards creating a Palestinian state that have been stalled for seven years.

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