Medvedev Holds Mideast Talks with Abbas

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev held talks Friday with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas focused on efforts to kick start stalled peace negotiations with Israel.

Abbas told Medvedev in opening remarks at the Russian president's suburban Moscow residence that the Palestinians "will always draw upon your advice and the favorable approaches proposed by the Russian Federation."

He added that the local leadership of Jericho had recently named one of the West Bank city's main streets after Medvedev in honor of his visit there in January 2011.

"I see this as a symbol of Russian-Palestinian friendship, which stretches back not decades but centuries," Medvedev said.

"This is proof of the fact that our relations remain on an excellent level."

Abbas arrived in Moscow on Thursday on the final leg of a European tour that also saw him visit London and Berlin.

The visits are aimed at securing European backing for the Palestinians' position amid unsuccessful attempts to resume peacemaking efforts with Israel.

Direct Middle East peace talks have not been held since September 2010 and the third round of exploratory meetings held in Jordan on January 14 produced no tangible result.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday following her meeting with Abbas that it was "very, very important that we see progress that each side sees that good will is there."

Medvedev reaffirmed Russia's commitment to an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital during his January trip to the West Bank -- a position first established by the Soviet Union in 1988.

Russia is a member of the so-called peacemaking Middle East Quartet that also includes the United States along with the European Union and the United Nations.

But Moscow's influence in the region has waned considerably since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Source: Agence France Presse

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