Putin Backs Egypt-Jordan Peace Plan
Russian President Vladimir Putin told visiting Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak on Friday that Moscow backed a peace proposal put forward by Egypt and Jordan to put a halt to the escalating situation in the Palestinian territories and resume negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.
"The Jordanian-Egyptian peace plan seems to us movement in the right direction," said Putin, cited by AFP.
"Of course it is only one basis and much remains to be considered and made acceptable to the other countries involved in the conflict," he said.
The Egypt-Jordan initiative calls for confidence-building measures, including a halt to Israel's settlement activities and a resumption of negotiations for a final peace settlement.
Mubarak is due to discuss the plan with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres on Sunday after his return to Cairo.
Sharon has said he wants some modifications to the plan, but the Palestinians have rejected any fundamental changes.
Russia, traditionally close to the Arab side in the Middle East and formally a co-sponsor of the Middle East peace process, has seen its influence in the region wane in recent years as Washington has taken the dominant role.
Putin and Mubarak, who was paying his first visit to Moscow since September 1997, signed a “Moscow Declaration” that calls for stronger ties between the two countries in various fields, including trade, economy technology and “ways to achieve peace in the Middle East region, based on land for peace.”
Egypt also reached a general agreement for Russia to exploit an Egyptian natural gas field, reported All-Ahram daily.
The two sides also signed a series of arms trade agreements.
Russian economy chief German Gref and his Egyptian counterpart Youssef Boutros-Ghali also signed a long-term program on economic cooperation, including aviation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Russian and Egyptian officials earlier discussed the possible participation of Russia in the construction of Egypt's first nuclear power plant.
Mubarak will leave Moscow on Saturday, ending his tour that also took him to Germany and Romania – Albawaba.com
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