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Palestinian, Russian presidents talk Mideast peace

The Associated Press

Date: 22.12.08

MOSCOW: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday discussed ways to cooperate on Middle East peace.

Medvedev said Russia was ready to continue working with the Palestinian authorities to help peace efforts.

"We hope we will continue to cooperate productively, especially as the number of problems we are facing haven't become smaller," Medvedev said at the start of his Kremlin talks with Abbas. "We need to move forward, so we will discuss issues related to the Middle East settlement and the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue."

Russia is a member of the so-called Quartet seeking to broker peace in the Middle East, along with the United States, the European Union and the United Nations. Moscow hopes to host a Mideast peace conference next year.

Unlike other Quartet members, Russia has maintained a dialogue with Hamas, the militant Islamic party that controls the Gaza Strip, and that could give Russia considerable influence as mediator.

Abbas visited Russia's province of Chechnya as part of his three-day trip, which began Saturday. He told Medvedev the trip was "useful."

Abbas also met later with Medvedev's predecessor and mentor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, thanking Moscow for political, economic and security support.