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Russia Urges UN Security Council Mideast Visit

Russia has proposed that the United Nations Security Council make its first visit to the Middle East in more than three decades, to help restart stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Russian representative to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, said Tuesday he made the proposal during consultations late last week. Churkin said in addition to Israel and the Palestinian territories, the 15-nation Council should aim to visit Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

He said the Security Council could boost international efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks with its first trip to the region since 1979.

The envoy told reporters Russia is concerned that in addition to the peace talks not moving forward, the entire region is "quite fragile" and "fraught with other possible complications."

Russia is one of five permanent, veto-wielding Council members, along with the United States, Britain, China and France. It also belongs to the Quartet of Middle East peacemakers, which includes the U.S., the U.N. and the European Union.

A diplomat for another country holding a permanent Council seat (who requested anonymity) said the trip is not certain, as some members have questioned whether it would be a harmful rather than a helpful move.

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