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23 Jun, 2009 23:34

Medvedev supports Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem

The Middle East peace process should result in establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, President Dmitry Medvedev has told the League of Arab States in Cairo.

On Tuesday, the Russian leader made Egypt his first stop on a tour of Africa aimed at reestablishing close ties with the continent.

Along with addressing the Arab League, Medvedev also met with President Hosni Mubarak.

Ties are growing between Russia and Egypt and tourism is a driving force behind the relationship. Last year nearly 2 million Russians visited the North African country.

“In the last year, bilateral trade turnover was more than $4 billion,” Medvedev said. “We have significant resources to stimulate mutual investment and industrial cooperation. We have some very promising areas of cooperation.”

The Russian leader spoke of the need to strengthen security in the Middle East and to find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We understand that resolving the Palestinian conflict and halting the occupation of Palestinian and other Arab lands are key to the overall normalization of the situation in the Middle East,” Medvedev told the League of Arab States.

“The resolution,” he continued, “must include the creation of an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state with the capital in East Jerusalem, which will coexist peacefully with all the countries in the region, including Israel”.

Medvedev said that all parties, including the recently elected Israeli government, have agreed to attend a Middle East peace conference due to be held by the end of the year in Moscow.

“Russia has a strong bearing on the processes taking place in the Middle East,” stated President Mubarak. “So we're interested in strengthening Moscow's role in resolving the situation in the region. When the Russian Federation suggested holding the summit in Moscow, we supported this initiative immediately.”

President Medvedev also spoke of traditionally good relations between Russia and the Arab world.

“We have a lot to learn from the Arab world,” the Russian president also said. “So any attempts to impose democracy or interfere from the outside are absolutely inappropriate. Barack Obama’s recent speech at Cairo University proves that there’s growing international understanding of this fact.”

Medvedev reminded his audience that many Arab students have studied in Russia, and before that in the Soviet Union. In addition, he noted, an estimated 20 million Muslims live in Russia, making the country a part of the Muslim world.

As for economic ties, Medvedev said, “The overall trade turnover between Russia and the Arab League has reached almost $10 billion.

“That is not bad,” he said, but “there is still even greater potential for cooperation.”

It is vitally important today, Medvedev emphasized, “to expand contacts in investment and energy, and to increase the number of joint projects.”

“We hope that the declaration of intent to establish a Russian-Arab cooperation forum, which was adopted today, will give a new impetus to this process,” he added.

During the Russian president’s meeting with Mubarak, discussion centered on international issues, including energy security and the crisis in Iran.

“We highly appreciate the efforts which the Egyptian president is making to build an atmosphere of trust and cooperation in the region,” Medvedev said after meeting his Egyptian counterpart. “We hope that we will continue our reciprocal cooperation in this sphere.”

The presidents have signed a strategic partnership agreement sealing future ties in military cooperation, tourism, trade and other areas.

Medvedev has also met Patriarch Theodore II of Alexandria, the second-most important figure in the Russian Orthodox hierarchy.

After Egypt, Medvedev will visit Nigeria, Namibia and Angola.