Arafat Appeals to Putin for Russian Help in Middle East
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin for Moscow to play a greater role in helping solve the raging Middle East crisis, Interfax reported.
The letter asks Putin to help "end the Israeli aggression against the people of Palestine," the news agency said.
It further cited Russian diplomats as saying that Moscow has received several similar appeals from the Israeli side.
Russia, together with the United States, is a co-sponsor of the Middle East process and a traditional ally of Arab states.
However its influence in the region has waned substantially, as was underlined by its absence from October's Sharm el-Sheikh summit in Egypt.
Earlier, the foreign ministry here announced that Russia's top diplomat, Igor Ivanov, had consulted his Western counterparts and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in a bid to coordinate the world's response to the Middle East crisis.
Ivanov held telephone talks Tuesday and Wednesday with Annan and foreign ministers from Britain, France and Israel, along with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
During the conversations, Ivanov stressed "the importance of completely coordinated efforts" in solving the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian violence, the foreign ministry said.
It added that the "predominant opinion" expressed was for "urgent intervention in the situation" in order to curb the violence – MOSCOW (AFP)
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