Russia's Putin to visit Palestinian territories today
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Russia's Putin to visit Palestinian territories today

Bethlehem : Palestine | Jun 26, 2012 at 2:02 AM PDT
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Putin meets Abbas in Bethlehem

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ended his visit to Israel and is due to visit the Palestinian territories today.

Putin will then visit Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, where he will meet with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before the two inaugurate a newly-built Russian educational center in the holy city.

The Russian president will later open a guesthouse for Russian pilgrims near the Jordan River at the spot where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told the Israeli newspaper Israel Today that the Russian president would urge Abbas not to take unilateral steps and that they would discuss Israel's continued settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.

On Monday, Putin arrived in Israel for his first official visit since 2005. The purpose of the visit was to promote Russian-Israeli relations on economic, cultural and religious matters.

Putin held talks in Israel, with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres.

Netanyahu on Monday asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to relay his readiness to resume peace talks to President Mahmoud Abbas. "Either I will go to him or he can come to me," Netanyahu told Putin.

On the other hand, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki accused Israel's premier Benjamin Netanyahu of misrepresenting the peace process.

Al-Malki said Netanyahu had tried to make the issue of peace talks appear simple while in fact the Israeli premier has complicated the resumption of talks by refusing to abide by international law.

Palestinians say they will not hold new talks unless the Israeli government freezes its illegal settlement activities in the occupied West Bank lands.

Netanyahu has ignored repeated calls by the international community to halt settlement construction.

According to AFP report, Israel urged the Russian president to step up pressure on Iran to curb its suspect nuclear program but there was no sign of any concessions from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

For his part, Putin warned Peres that attacking Iran could backfire.

"Look at what happened to the Americans in Afghanistan and in Iraq," Putin said. "There is no need to do things too quickly; one should not act without thinking first.”

Also on Monday, Russian presidential visited Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, where he was met by Abbot Isidore and the Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos the Third.

Later this Tuesday, Vladimir Putin is due to arrive in Jordan to meet King Abdullah II for talks about Syria and Iran issues.

Source: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4247178,00.html

UPDATE

On Tuesday morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived with a delegation of 400 Russian politicians, journalists, and business people in Bethlehem .

After meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the presidential headquarters, President Mahmoud Abbas said he assured the Russian leader that "negotiations are the only way to achieve peace between us and Israel."

President Mahmoud Abbas called for an international peace conference in Moscow as he reiterated the leadership's position that they cannot enter peace talks while Israel continues to expand settlements on the occupied Palestinian land.

Abbas asked Putin for help securing the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, especially those detained before 1994. "We already agreed with Israel that they should be released, but that has not been put into effect yet." he said.

The leaders also discussed the reconciliation process between Abbas' Fatah party and rivals Hamas.

"We know that Russia is concerned about reconciliation, and I assured Putin that we are going ahead with it. If a date will be set for legislative and presidential elections, that will be the gate to reconciliation," Abbas said.

Putin told the press conference that he believes Palestinian unity will help reach a peace deal. He applauded the Palestinians' approach to peace, saying that the "Palestinian leadership, and the president personally, have been behaving responsibly to achieve peace based on the two-state solution."

The presidents also discussed the Arab Spring and bilateral relations between Russia and Palestine.

Source: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4247632,00.html

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Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Bethlehem on Tuesday morning for a brief meeting with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas.
saleh1966 is based in Gaza, Ġazzah, Palestine, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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