Report: Russian President Turned Down Invitation to Middle East Summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin declined an invitation to the emergency Middle East summit in Egypt because he was pessimistic about the likely outcome, a Moscow daily reported Tuesday.
Citing a Kremlin source, the Kommersant business daily said that the presidential administration and foreign ministry had argued Sunday on the eve of the crucial meeting whether Putin should join the mediation efforts.
Finally, the Russian leader himself decided that it was not worth putting in a symbolic appearance simply to salve national pride, the source added.
The Kremlin declined to comment on the report.
"I cannot deny or confirm this information," a presidential spokeswoman said Tuesday.
But Interfax cited a high-ranking Kremlin official as saying that Moscow was not surprised by the lack of progress at the summit despite more than 16 hours of talks on Monday.
The official, who asked to remain anonymous, added that a solution to the crisis in the Middle East was more likely to emerge from less high-profile efforts by all the interested parties, including Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who shuttled around the region last week on his own peace-making mission, said Monday that Moscow had not received an invitation to the summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
As US President Bill Clinton led efforts to halt more than two weeks of Israeli-Palestinian clashes, which have led to more than 100 deaths, Russia's absence brought into sharp focus the former superpower's diminished role in the Middle East.
Russia, along with the United States, sponsored the peace process launched in 1991 in Madrid.
But Moscow, once a major player in the Middle East when the Soviet Union plied friendly Arab countries with weapons and aid, no longer has the economic clout to rival Washington's role as the dominant powerbroker, analysts said - MOSCOW (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)