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  Wednesday, October 23, 2019
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Russia's president will meet with the secretary general of the League of Arab States Wednesday
Russia's president will meet with the secretary general of the League of Arab States Wednesday to discuss ways to tackle a recent surge of violence in the Middle East. During four days of gun fights in Gaza between the rival Palestinian factions, Islamist group Hamas and president-led Fatah which ended with a ceasefire Sunday, over 30 people were killed and hundreds injured. In an interview ahead of his visit to Moscow, Amr Moussa urged "serious international efforts" to resolve the crisis in the Palestinian territories. "If no serious efforts are taken to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and establish an independent Palestinian state ... security will be difficult to ensure throughout the rest of the Middle East region," Moussa said. The Cairo-based Arab League comprises the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Liberation Organization as one of its 22 members. Moussa said ongoing bloody clashes between Sunni insurgents and the U.S.-backed government of Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq was part of the broader Middle East problem. Moussa said the situation in Lebanon also raised concerns. Mass anti-government rallies inspired by the radical group Hezbollah have swept the Arab country, which was devastated last summer by Israeli air strikes against the Islamist organization representing the Shiite Muslim majority. Moussa, who is expected to visit Lebanon shortly, said those issues would be discussed when he meets with Putin and highlighted Russia's role in the Middle East. "Russia plays an important role in the region as it understands the specifics of the current situation and, unlike others, takes an unbiased position," Moussa said. As a member of the Quartet of international mediators in the region, which also includes the UN, EU and the U.S., Russia has repeatedly urged dialogue with all parties involved, including Hamas, and proposed getting Iran and Syria engaged in the peace talks. Washington and the European Union, which consider Hamas a terrorist organization and suspended aid to the Palestinian Authority after it came to power last January, rejected both ideas at a Quartet meeting in Washington last week and decided to extend the sanctions against the PA. The U.S. has accused Iran and Syria of backing the insurgency and unrest in Iraq and Lebanon, and suspects the Islamic Republic of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program. Tehran denies both charges. The U.S. has also been opposed to Russia's idea to hold an international conference on the Middle East. Russian media said Washington is unwilling to attract new negotiators that are not loyal to it or hostile to Israel, which the U.S. has traditionally backed in the region. But speaking to the press following talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Tuesday, Moussa said the idea "is extremely important as it implies joining efforts" in the Middle East.
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