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11 Feb, 2009 11:01

Moscow and EU agree on calling MidEast Quartet meeting

The EU and Russia have agreed to hold a new meeting of the Middle East Quartet – which includes the UN, the EU, Russia and the U.S. – to lay grounds for a long-term settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

EU representatives have met with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow in the framework of security talks.

The European representatives include Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, and European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner said it was important to proceed with it, taking into account the results of parliamentary elections in Israel.

The Russian Foreign Minister, for his part, said

“It is necessary to strengthen Palestinian unity and not to allow the continued split state of the society. It is now essential to settle problems which arose following the recent crisis in Gaza, but it is also important to think about resuming the peace process, which has been seriously affected.”

A new Russia-EU partnership agreement, as well as European security treaty, and the Middle East were other major topics at the meeting between the Russian Foreign Minister and the EU Troika delegation in Moscow.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted ‘good progress’ in new partnership agreement talks. He also said the Russian side has informed the EU representatives about its plans for developing President Medvedev’s initiative concerning a new collective security treaty in Europe.

On the EU side Javier Solana also stated there has been progress in regards to European security.

“We have had three rounds of negotiations so far, which have allowed us to get a better view of each others' positions. However, we are still very much in the initial phases of a negotiating process which could take some time,” Solana said.

He added that in the field of external security ‘very few’ issues remained.

As far as the Middle East is concerned, Russia has pledged support to NATO in Afghanistan. At the same time he pointed out that “the main thing is to get NATO-Russia cooperation back to normal – which has not been the case so far. The relationship has to be repaired and we hope NATO will stick to the agreements and won't allow any failures any more.”

Regarding the Iranian issue, Lavrov said both sides have ‘almost identical views’, adding that Moscow is counting on ‘a fresh approach’ on Iran from the American administration.