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Russia Offers to Help Israeli, Palestinian Leaders to Implement Peace Plan - 2003-09-09

Russia says it is ready to assist Israeli and Palestinian leaders in their search for a political settlement.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko says Moscow believes there is no other way out of the crisis in the Middle East except for that offered by the Roadmap for Peace.

The Russian comment follows the weekend resignation of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who stepped down after a lengthy power struggle with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

Russia's Yakovenko noted that the changes in leadership are occurring against what he called a dismaying background. He urged both sides to refrain from escalating violence, saying this would further complicate efforts to advance the Middle East peace process.

Mr. Yakovenko says the violence is doing neither Israelis nor Palestinians any good. The Russian spokesman also expressed concern about recent Israeli calls to deport Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He and other Russian officials, including the head of the International Affairs Committee of the State Duma, or lower house of parliament, have said that such measures could not yield positive results.

Russia, along with the United States, European Union, and the United Nations, is a co-author of the road map for peace, but only now is beginning to increase its role in the implementation process.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov traveled to the region this week for talks with the governments of Jordan, Syria, and Libya.