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Putin Says Spoke With Trump About Israel-Palestinian Situation

February 12, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken by phone with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, about the situation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Russian news agencies reported.

The two leaders spoke on February 12 ahead of a meeting in Moscow between Putin and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, the reports said.

"I just spoke with American President Trump," Putin was quoted by TASS and Interfax as telling Abbas before holding talks behind closed doors. "Obviously we spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

The agencies reported that Putin said the discussion centered on how to bridge the differences between Israel and the Palestinians as the current situation in the region was far different than the Kremlin would like to see.

They quoted Abbas as saying that the Palestinians could not accept the United States as the sole mediator in talks with Israel because of Washington's actions.

Relations between the U.S. administration and the Palestinians have been strained since Trump on December 6 announced he was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital and vowed to relocate the U.S. Embassy there.

Palestinians regard East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and declared the entire city as its capital, a move never recognized by the international community, and Abbas would like to strengthen his position behind Russian support.

Abbas is also looking to get backing for an international mechanism for Middle East peace talks to supplant the United States as the leading player.

Abbas's trip to Moscow comes two weeks after a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Abbas was originally scheduled to meet with Putin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, but the Russian leader canceled the trip to remain in the capital to monitor developments after the crash of a passenger plane killed 71 people outside of Moscow on February 11.

Trump offered his condolences for the fatal crash during the phone call with Putin, the Russian news agencies said.

Based on reporting by Interfax, TASS, AFP, Reuters

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/putin-trump- palestinian-israeli-talks/29035848.html

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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