Official: Israeli Foreign Minister in Moscow Monday
Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami will arrive in Moscow Monday for talks on the Middle East crisis, his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov confirmed on Saturday.
Russia succeeded this week in brokering a conversation between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who was in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Speaking during a visit to Berlin, Ivanov confirmed Ami's arrival in Moscow Monday, the Russian foreign ministry here said.
Russia, a co-sponsor of the Middle East peace process with Washington, transmitted new proposals on Friday to the Israelis and Palestinians. The details have not been revealed.
During the Russian leader's Kremlin meeting with Arafat, Putin managed to extract a pledge from the Palestinian leader and Barak that the two sides would work together to end almost two months of fighting that has left some 280 people dead.
Ivanov said Saturday he was pleased about the Barak-Arafat telephone conversation, but cautioned about the further course of events.
"The conflict has gone very far and it's very complicated trying to restore the situation in one step," he was quoted by Ria Novosti agency as saying.
The main thing was to convince the parties to return to the negotiating table and pursue dialogue on a Middle East peace settlement, he said.
At the hastily arranged summit with Arafat in Moscow, during which the Palestinian leader spoke to Barak by telephone -- the bitter rivals first conversation in three weeks -- the two sides pledged to resume low-level security contacts.
A co-sponsor of the Middle East peace process at its inception in 1991, Russia has seen its influence in the region wane over recent years as the United States became the main mediator.
Putin is thought to have used the Kremlin meeting with Arafat to repair Russia's threadbare credibility as a player in the Middle East following its conspicuous absence from last month's Sharm el-Sheikh summit in Egypt -- MOSCOW (AFP)
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