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11 May, 2009 20:12

Lavrov: “All parties should resume talks towards peace process”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has been chairing a UN Security Council meeting that seeks to restart the Middle East Peace Process. The outcome has been explained at a press conference at UN headquarters.

Lavrov noted that the Security Council had called upon all parties involved in the Middle East Peace Process to resume their talks. It was also pointed out that to reach comprehensive peace in the Middle East, efforts must be made to continue this process not only with the Palestinians, but also on the Syrian and Lebanese tracks.

Participants in the meeting supported the convening in Moscow of an international conference on the Middle East later this year.

“This unanimous support for our initiative clearly will help us in our continuing work to coordinate the timing and substance for this Moscow forum,” said Mr. Lavrov.

Previous resolutions remain valid

Answering a question about the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and adhering to previous commitments by the parties, Lavrov said that none of the previous agreements, including those decisions regarding a two state concept, had been cancelled. It is a matter of principle, he said, to resume talks based upon the decisions made so far and reflected in UN resolutions, and not begin from scratch.

Lavrov particularly pointed out that the Arab Peace Initiative seeking to normalize relations between the entire Arab region and Israel had received “unprecedented support” during the meeting.

“We have been for this initiative from the first days after this initiative was approved in 2002. And I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that all UN Security Council members were saying, this time, that this initiative should be one of the cornerstones of the future settlement,” the Russian Foreign Minister said.

According to Lavrov’s statement, the Arab Peace Initiative will be “organically incorporated” into the Middle East Policy of US President Barak Obama.

Talks with Hamas

Lavrov also mentioned that Russia had never stopped talking to all parties involved in the Palestinian problem.

“We continue negotiations with Hamas and we’re concentrating on those aspects which are a basic concern of the Palestinian people. This includes seeking the unity of the Palestinian people,” he said.

“Recently, some countries avoided this issue and spoke only to one part of the Palestinian community. Today they already accept that there is no solution to the Palestinian problem if there is dissent within the Palestinian community,” added Russia’s Foreign Minister.

The Moscow conference

According to Lavrov, the date of the Moscow conference on the Middle East will be determined shortly after the new Israeli government has approved of participating in the conference.

“The Middle East Quartet will meet shortly to discuss this issue," he said.

Lavrov mentioned that the Moscow conference would include a broad number of parties. There will be all members of the Quartet, the Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States, countries from other continents that provide humanitarian, material or moral support to the efforts in the region.

However, President Obama’s visit to Moscow July 6-8, as Sergey Lavrov noted, is not linked to the Middle East.