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Qatar's emir said Monday he backed Russia's proposal to hold an international conference on the Middle East in a bid to resolve the region's conflicts
Qatar's emir said Monday he backed Russia's proposal to hold an international conference on the Middle East in a bid to resolve the region's conflicts. Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed the initiative to hold an international conference on the Middle East back in 2005 to restart Arab-Israeli negotiations on all tracks and lead the peace process out of its deadlock. "We support [the idea of] holding a conference on the Middle East. Our region needs help," Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani said during Putin's current visit to the country. He mentioned long-standing conflicts in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon. "We advocate positive cooperation and expect Russia to make progress [in Middle East settlement]," he added. Experts say Iraq is on the brink of civil war in a standoff between the predominantly Shiite Muslim government, which is enjoying the support of the United States, and the Sunni minority, backed by the authorities of neighboring Iran. Lebanon, which is divided between the largely pro-Syrian Muslim Shia majority led by the Islamist group Hezbollah, and the Christian minority opposed to Syrian influence, emerged from a 15-year civil war in 1990. Last summer the country was also devastated by Israeli air strikes during the Israeli campaign against Hezbollah, and later in the year Hezbollah-inspired mass rallies swept the country, demanding the government's resignation. Arab-Israeli peace talks have been hampered by Islamist group Hamas's victory in the 2006 parliamentary elections in the Palestinian National Authority defeating more moderate Fatah, led by President Mahmoud Abbas. Since Hamas came into power, Western nations have blocked aid to the Palestinian government, over the radical group's refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist, give up violence and comply with previous Palestinian-Israeli agreements seeking a solution to the long-protracted Middle East crisis. The PNA was hit by an outbreak of violence between Hamas and Fatah over political influence in January until faction leaders reached an agreement in principle on the structure of a new power-sharing Cabinet last week.
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