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The Middle East Quartet, comprising Russia,
The Middle East Quartet, comprising Russia, the EU, the UN and the U.S., will gather on April 17 in Amman, the capital of Jordan, a Russian Foreign Ministry representative said Tuesday.

The quartet will "discuss plans for future action, including the organization of an international meeting on the Middle East and an upcoming ministerial meeting of the Quartet," Sergei Yakolev said.

The ministers' meeting will be a forerunner of Mideast peace talks in Moscow, for which a date has not yet been fixed, he said.

"The agenda for the Moscow meeting will be discussed by the quartet and with representatives of regional powers, and when our partners are ready to adopt it we will announce the assembly of the conference," Yakovlev said, adding that the Amman meeting would be an informal discussion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin first voiced the idea of holding a Moscow Mideast peace conference in 2005.

The proposal for a Moscow Mideast peace conference was supported by a number of Arab countries prior to talks in the U.S. state of Maryland late last year. The U.S.-sponsored meeting saw Israel and the Palestinian National Authority resume peace talks after a seven-year hiatus.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met on Monday in Jerusalem to discuss the peace process in their first meeting since a devastating Israeli raid on the Gaza Strip killed some 120 Palestinians, including many civilians, in late February.

Israel said the attack was in response to rocket attacks on Israeli border towns from Gaza. Abbas halted peace talks with Israel after the assault.

However, after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Jordan on March 30-31, the Palestinian leader announced that he would resume talks with Israel.


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