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President Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Abbas are discussing the “Road Map” plan
President Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestine National Autonomy, are discussing the “Road Map” plan, the possibility of resuming the Palestine-Israeli dialogue, and Russia’s aid to Palestine. The talks are being held at the Sochi residence of the Russian president. Opening the negotiations, Putin moved to touch on Russian aid to Palestine: “Russia has always been a dependable and consistent friend of the Palestine people. I am glad of this opportunity to discuss some pressing problems, which are cropping up on your way, and which we could help settle,” he stated. Abbas noted right away that he came to Sochi “to exchange views on the possible ways to launch a political process”. “This has become very important after the formation of a new government in Israel,” he added. “We expect the new Israeli government to start negotiations with us, because we are its partners and we believe in the possibility of a peace settlement,” Abbas noted. He is expecting to learn more about Russia’s stand “as a friend and as an important and influential member of the Middle East ‘quartet’.” “Negotiations are the only way to settle the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis and to find a solution, which would satisfy both sides and would put an end to the still unsettled problems,” Abbas is sure. “We have faith in the effectiveness of the ‘Road Map’, because we regard this plan as the main, if not the only way, to achieve a settlement,” Abbas stated. He thanked Putin for Russia’s financial aid to the Palestine Autonomy: “We hereby express our profound gratitude and respect for the aid we are getting from Russia, including the aid that is being rendered to us on your personal instruction. We are exerting efforts to extricate the Palestinian people from the current grave economic crisis and we hope this will be done as quickly as possible.” The negotiators, who are meeting for the second time after their last year’s exchange of visits, said they were, indeed, glad to meet again. “I am aware of your great efforts to normalise the situation in the Palestine territories, to ensure their normal development in the future,” the Russian president noted. “I am glad to host you here and of the opportunity to negotiate not only on the development of the Palestine territories, on the settlement of the situation with Israel, but also on the entire range of regional problems,” Putin stated. “We are glad to be here in a friendly country. While visiting Russia, we always feel that we are in a friendly country, in a country that is always backing the Palestine people and siding with us whenever we are faced with critical situations,” the PNA leader stressed. He also stated that he had thoroughly studied the Russian president’s recent Address to the parliament and believed that the program it outlined would elevate Russia to leading global positions. “We have thoroughly examined your Address, which indicates clear-cut and coherent prospects of Russia’s development under your leadership,” Abbas stated. “It is an all-embracing speech, devoted to several pressing problems and proving Russia’s determination to move ahead and to regain the place, which it deserves in global politics,” Abbas declared. A high-ranking official of the Kremlin administration told Itar-Tass before the negotiations: “The PNA leader has obtained a conclusive mandate of trust from the Palestinian people during the January 2005 elections and is vested with extensive powers. For Russia, he is a legitimate and indispensable partner in the global process, who is consistently pursuing a policy of strengthening the central Palestine authorities and consolidating their structures.”
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