Abbas sees greater Russian role in Mideast peaceApril 18th, 2008 - 4:57 pm ICT by admin
Moscow, April 18 (RIA Novosti) A Middle East peace conference slated here for June will strengthen Russia’s role in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has said. Abbas, who arrived in Moscow on a three-day visit Wednesday, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta he hoped the meeting would remove obstacles in the way to a peace settlement and “will salvage the peace process”.
He said that Russia is geographically close to the region and “therefore, stability is among its priority interests”, adding that the upcoming peace conference would “strengthen its role in the peace process”.
Putin first voiced the idea of holding a Mideast peace conference in 2005, and received the backing of several Arab countries prior to talks at a US-sponsored conference held last year in Annapolis, in Maryland.
Abbas said that several barriers continue to block the implementation of commitments made in Annapolis.
The Annapolis summit saw resumption of talks between the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Israel after a seven-year gap. The sides pledged to do everything possible to draft a peace settlement by the end of 2008 and to come to an agreement on the form of a future independent Palestinian state.
However, the talks came to a halt last month after a large Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip left 120 Palestinians dead. Abbas announced he would resume talks following a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the end of March.
The fragile peace talks were again under threat after an escalation of violence last week in which 20 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed along with three Israeli soldiers in air strikes and fighting in the Gaza Strip.