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Mideast Quartet may meet in Moscow in February - Lavrov

RIA Novosti


SOCHI, January 26 (RIA Novosti) - The next meeting of the international mediators of the Middle East conflict may be held in Moscow in February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday.

Lavrov said Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who is currently on a three-day visit to Russia and has met with President Dmitry Medvedev, "welcomed our initiative to hold a Quartet meeting as early as next month."

Russia, along with the UN, the United States and European Union, is part of the Middle East Quartet of intermediaries for peace efforts.

According to Lavrov, the Quartet meeting on the foreign minister level will focus on the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which have seen a lack of progress due to the Israeli Jewish outpost expansion in the West Bank.

Talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority launched after a peace conference hosted by then U.S. President George Bush in November 2007 were comprehensively ended by an Israeli offensive on Gaza in December 2008 that left 1,300 Palestinians dead and 5,000 injured.

Lavrov said the Russian and Palestinian leaders agreed that "this [the resumption of talks] is possible only through a collective effort, based on a solid international legal basis, in strict accordance with the provisions of the previous Quartet agreements, and most importantly UN Security Council resolutions."

Russia's Middle East initiative envisages the holding of high-level talks to support the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and, possibly resume other tracks, including Syria and Lebanon, in the Mideast settlement.

Russia has been seeking to host international Mideast peace talks in Moscow for more than a year.

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