High hopes for Middle East quartet talks

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, has said the Middle East quartet talks next month could lead to direct peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr Churkin's comments came as the United Nations' top political affairs officer warned the Security Council that the world cannot afford a prolonged conflict in the Middle East.

“Of course, there were some expressions of concern about many difficulties which remain there, but also there was a strong feeling that there are some signs of hope which should be fully taken advantage of by the international community. There was a strong expression of interest in the successful meeting of the Middle East quartet on February 2 and also support for the work of the quartet,” emphasised Mr Churkin.