Russia, Syria Call on New Round of Middle East Peace Talks
Top Russian and Syrian diplomats Friday called on Palestinian and Israelis authorities to enter a new round of peace negotiation that would include other leaders from the Middle East.
In a Russian foreign ministry statement, the two sides called on a "quick end to the bloodshed between Palestinians and Israelis that were provoked by the known events of September 28, and to return calm their relations again."
Violence erupted following Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon's September 28 visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City. More than 100 people, the vast majority of them Palestinians, have been killed since.
The Moscow statement was released following a meeting between Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Sredin and the Syrian ambassador to Russia, Ghassan Reslan.
The two diplomats "agreed that a lasting settlement in the Middle East was only possible on a collective basis, with the active involvement of all interested parties."
It added that negotiations should resume "on all tracks -- Palestinian, Syrian and Lebanese."
The Russian ministry said that Moscow was willing to take part in future negotiations, in its role as co-sponsor of the Middle East peace process.
Earlier, a senior Kremlin aide said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Bill Clinton were to discuss the situation in the Middle East later in the day by telephone.
The two leaders were to discuss ongoing strife between the Israeli military and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza despite appeals for calm following the Sharm el-Sheikh peace summit, Sergei Prikhodko said.
Putin could also talk by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, Russian news agencies quoted the Kremlin deputy chief of staff as saying.
Russia said it was not invited to the summit in the Egyptian resort earlier this week even though it is officially a co-sponsor of the Middle East peace process – MOSCOW (AFP)
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