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Russia's Lavrov to participate in Gaza rebuilding conference

RIA Novosti

27/02/2009 13:12 MOSCOW, February 27 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Egypt on Monday for the international conference on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, the Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

"On March 2, the Russian delegation headed by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will participate in the international conference in Sharm el-Sheikh that was initiated by Egypt in support of the Palestinian economy for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip," the statement on its website said.

A Russian Foreign Ministry source said on Wednesday that planning was underway for a ministerial-level meeting of the Middle East peace Quartet on the sidelines of conference, which will be attended by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and some 60 other leaders, officials, bankers and businesspeople.

More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed during Israel's three-week military operation in Gaza last month. The attack was launched by Tel Aviv to try and prevent militants firing rockets at southern Israeli towns from the Hamas-controlled enclave. Damage in the Gaza Strip from the Israeli airstrikes and ground operations was estimated at $1.5 billion.

The Foreign Ministry statement said the main aim of the conference was "to define the volume and mechanisms of giving international aid to the civilian people of Gaza, as well as developing ways to eradicate the serious consequences of the recent armed conflict."

A Foreign Ministry source said Lavrov would lay out the exact details of a planned Russian aid package during the conference.

Lavrov also plans to discuss with the Quartet representatives and other delegates what steps should be taken in order to renew the peace process and reach "overall and just settlement in the Middle East based on a stable international legal foundation."

The Foreign Ministry also said Russia will continue to cooperate in regulating the Palestinian conflict through its contacts representing all of the factions, including Hamas.

"We believe that the Palestinians will reach an agreement shortly on the creation of a united national government, as well as other issues on the domestic Palestinian agenda," the ministry said, adding Russia will continue "to interact actively with the head of the PNA, Hamas leaders, and all of the Palestinian factions."

The Middle East Quartet brings together Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations in efforts to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.



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