Russia has launched a diplomatic effort to try to resolve the Middle East crisis. President Vladimir Putin sent special envoy Andrei Vdovin on a peace mission - his fourth trip to the region during the past three months. Mr. Vdovin plans to visit Israel, Egypt, and Jordan to argue for implementation of the Mitchell plan.
Russia is a co-sponsor of the peace process along with the United States, and Moscow is stepping up its diplomatic initiatives in the region. President Putin has pledged to redouble Moscow's peace making efforts, taking advantage of Russia's traditionally strong ties with the Arab world and its improving relationship with Israel.
This past week Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and a senior Palestinian negotiator both visited the Russian capital, although not at the same time. There are indications that Palestine Authority leader Yasser Arafat may also visit Moscow soon.