Moscow to host Mid-East conference

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says he hopes the issue of Palestinian unity will be resolved by next spring. At a meeting in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh , the Middle East Quartet of negotiators has supported holding a conference in Moscow in 2009.

Representatives from the EU, the UN, Russia, the U.S., the Arab League and leaders from both sides of the conflict have taken part in Sunday’s talks.

“We have once again confirmed that next spring, when the new U.S. administration comes in to power and a new government is formed in Israel, we’ll have the necessary conditions for the meeting,” Lavrov told a news conference after the meeting with the Quartet representatives.

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon supported the idea of holding such a conference in the Russian capital.

Ahead of the meeting, Lavrov said he hopes that the “calm that was established with regional mediation between Israel and the Gaza Strip will be maintained. Now it is necessary to try to take steps that will make it possible to preserve this truce.”

But the most important thing, according to Lavrov, is “the completion of the process that was launched in Annapolis with real agreements ensuring stable peace. This first of all concerns all aspects of the final status and creation of a viable independent Palestinian state that will be coexisting with Israel and other neighbouring states in peace and security.”

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice voiced the same opinion about the creation of a Palestinian state.

“The Annapolis process is vital and it is vibrant and it is continuing,” she said. “I am quite certain that, carried to its conclusion, it will produce a state of Palestine. We may not yet be at the finish line. I am quite certain that if Israeli and Palestinians stay on the Annapolis course, they are going to cross that finish line and can do so relatively soon.”