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Russia Affirms Support For Abbas as Palestinian Leader

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reaffirmed his support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is visiting Moscow.

Mr. Putin Tuesday said Russia views Mr. Abbas as the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people. The Russian leader said he is sure Mr. Abbas will do everything in his power to restore unity to the Palestinians.

Mr. Abbas vowed to make every effort for unity. He dissolved the Palestinians' Hamas-led unity government after the Islamic militant group seized control of the Gaza Strip in June. Mr. Abbas then set up a new government based in the West Bank.

The Palestinian president is in Russia on a three-day trip to discuss the Middle East peace process and the Palestinian political situation. Russia is the only member of the international Mideast Quartet that maintains ties with Hamas.

Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union make up the quartet, which is trying to foster a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel.

The United States, Israel and the European Union classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.