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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: Russian Federation
20 March 2008




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Transcript of Remarks and Replies to Media Questions by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at Joint Press Conference with Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni, Tel Aviv, March 20, 2008


At the outset, I would like to express satisfaction with our talks in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The signed Agreement on switchover to a visa-free regime is an important stage in the strengthening of relations with Israel.

Bilateral relations are intensively developing not only in the humanitarian and cultural sphere, but also in the economic, commercial and investment fields.

We paid special attention to the situation in the region. We support the process of negotiations between the representatives of the PNA and of the Israeli leadership. The process is continuing, despite the difficulties. We appreciate the efforts being shown by Palestinians and Israelis in conducting the talks.

At the same time we are convinced that for the negotiations to succeed it is extremely important to act urgently to bring the vicious circle of violence to an end so that neither terrorist acts nor retaliatory measures lead to the deaths of innocent Israelis and Palestinians.

Although movement towards peace will not be easy, we are firmly disposed to help efforts by Israelis and Palestinians to achieve results and we will be seeking to ensure that this opens the way to a comprehensive Arab-Israeli settlement on all the tracks.

We want to see the Middle East a region of peace and of stability, where all states, including Israel, live in security, in conditions that are optimal for development, for solving economic and social problems and for the closest cooperation with each other.

It seems to me that the present talks can move ahead along this road and will, of course, help the further deepening of bilateral ties with Russia.

Question: How true are the reports of Syrian sources that in Damascus you met with Hamas representatives?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: They are true.

Question: And how do they square with the Quartet’s policy towards this organization?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Integrally.

Question: When you are talking about the need to take urgent action to settle the conflict and about the Moscow meeting on the Middle East, a so called sequel to Annapolis, what reaction have you encountered here, in Israel, concerning Moscow’s proposals?

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Yes, we met with Hamas. This wasn’t our first meeting. We had previously maintained contacts too. These contacts, as we’ve explained more than once, have as their chief objective to ensure Palestinian unity under the leadership of lawful PNA President Mahmoud Abbas and on the platform that is supported by the Quartet of international mediators.

Our work fully blends with the efforts of the Quartet.

We are certain that when the Palestinian-Israeli talks have brought about results, and we very much hope that this will soon happen, the question will arise as to how these results are being taken by all the Palestinians without exception. Therefore restoring the unity of Palestine on the firm basis that I have referred to and which corresponds to the Quartet’s position is an integral task of settlement.

The central role in achieving consensus belongs to the Israelis and Palestinians. The international community, including the Quartet and the representatives of Arab states and international organizations can and should help but not interfere in this process itself. It is important to maintain direct negotiations and create the most favorable atmosphere for their continuation. It is in this context that all participants of the Annapolis meeting are talking about further international contacts, meaning, in particular, the international meeting in Moscow. And we sense the relevance of our support in the form of additional steps for an international follow-up to the direct negotiations. Now we are completing the process of consultations, based on which we will be taking a decision regarding the Moscow meeting.

I will repeat it: the chief objective is to aid direct negotiations and help to create the most comfortable atmosphere for their success.


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