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Russia supports Abbas as legitimate Palestinian leader: Putin
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07:51, August 01, 2007

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Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday in Moscow that Russia backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the legitimate Palestinian leader.

Abbas is on a three-day working visit to Moscow which comes as his Fatah movement is locked in a power struggle with the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, which now controls Gaza.

"I am sure that you will do everything in order to restore the unity of the Palestinian people," Putin was quoted as saying to Abbas in the Kremlin.

"We all of us know what hard times you and the Palestinian people are having now...We consistently advocate the legitimate interests of the Palestinian people, up to the establishment of the Palestinian state," he said.

Abbas responded that "we always strived for unity of our people in order to lead it to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state."

"We have had very painful, difficult events recently in the Gaza Strip, but we are not sparing efforts for overcoming the consequences of what has happened in order to return to the earlier situation and to continue our path," Abbas was quoted by Itar-Tass new agency as saying.

"Despite the coup in Gaza, we feel responsibility for the life of our people, and we call for the humanitarian aid of friendly states to the Palestinian people in order the social-economic situation does not deteriorate there," he noted.

The visit was initially scheduled for June, but was postponed when Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in mid June.

Russia will provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority and send 50 armored personnel carriers there, Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov said.

He said Russia will keep its ties with Hamas in a bid to promote dialogue but would hold no high-level meetings in the near future.

Abbas said he has agreed to talk with Hamas if it gives up control of Gaza.

"Dialogue with Hamas is possible if the situation returns to normal, to what it was before Hamas seized Gaza in June," he said.

Source: Xinhua



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