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21 Mar, 2008 14:11

Russian FM discusses regional security in Palestine

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is in the Palestinian Autonomy for talks with its President, Mahmoud Abbas. The meeting, which is set to focus on improving security in the region, is the final leg of Lavrov's tour of the Middle East.

He's discussing Russia's military and humanitarian aid with Mahmoud Abbas. On behalf of Vladimir Putin, Lavrov invited Abbas to visit Moscow. Abbas said he would be glad to visit Moscow and he'll do so soon.

Lavrov also confirmed that Russia is considering the possibility of holding a follow-up meeting to the Annapolis Middle East peace conference held in the U.S. in last November.

Middle East tour

The talks come after Lavrov’s visits to Israel and Syria. In Damascus, he held talks with his counterpart Walid Moallem and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and an agreement was reached on easing visa regulations with Israel.

He also met Hamas representatives to discuss the Middle East peace process.

While in Tel Aviv, Lavrov held talks with the Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and signed an agreement with his counterpart, which lifts travel restrictions between Russia and Israel.

Kosovo issue

Russia’s Foreign Minister has warned that the supply of U.S. weapons to Kosovo could further destabilise the Balkans. Speaking in Israel, Lavrov said the only legitimate delivery of arms to Kosovo were those made to the international contingent working under a UN mandate.

“The only legitimate basis for regulating the situation in Kosovo is Security Council resolution 1244. It does not allow Kosovo to have its own army or for anybody to supply military equipment to Kosovo except for supplies to the international contingent working under a UN mandate. Any other supplies are illegitimate,” Lavrov said.

He added that he wouldn’t like to think that supplies there are aimed at forcing Serbs and other minorities to remain within the illegally proclaimed state.