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Putin: Russia already recognizes Palestine

JTA

June 28, 2012 | 9:03 am

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin shake hands after their speeches during the opening ceremony of the Russian culture and science centre in the West Bank city of Bethlehem June 26. Photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin shake hands after their speeches during the opening ceremony of the Russian culture and science centre in the West Bank city of Bethlehem June 26. Photo by REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Moscow already has recognized a Palestinian state.

“We [recognized Palestine] 25 years ago, and our position has not changed,” Putin told Abbas on Tuesday during a visit to Ramallah, the Times of Israel reported.

“Palestinian leadership, and the president personally, have been behaving responsibly to achieve peace based on the two-state solution,” Putin reportedly said.

U.S. government officials have urged Abbas repeatedly to return to talks with Israel without preconditions. Abbas has said he will not have high-level dialogue until Israel freezes all building in the West Bank and in eastern Jerusalem.

Putin also said that he agreed with Abbas’ efforts to create a national unity government between his Fatah faction and Hamas, the Times of Israel reported. Hamas embraces terrorism as a legitimate tool in its stated goal of destroying Israel.

Earlier this week, Putin had met in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling the visit “a solid basis for building dialogue and partnership.”

Israeli concerns include Russian support for Syria’s embattled Assad regime and the sale of sophisticated anti-aircraft missile systems to Iran. Putin repeatedly has rejected calls for a possible Israeli or Western nation military strike against Iran’s nuclear installations, which Tehran will not fully open to international inspections.

Russia appears to be trying to reassert its role in Israeli-Arab peacemaking. Putin said he was open to hosting a peace summit in Moscow, the Times of Israel reported. Russia and its predecessor state, the Soviet Union, has traditionally favored Arab positions in such talks.

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