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Russia suggests Mideast ministerial peace conference

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov listens to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during their talks in Moscow, Russia, December 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov listens to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during their talks in Moscow, Russia, December 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov backs a Palestinian proposal for a Middle East peace conference, saying at the UN that it could be held at the ministerial level in spring or summer.

Recalling that Moscow had backed Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’s idea for international talks when he first proposed it in September, Lavrov offers ideas about who could be invited.

“We propose holding an international, ministerial-level meeting in spring-summer 2021,” Lavrov tells a videoconference UN Security Council meeting about the Middle East.

Participants would include Israel, the Palestinians, the four members of the so-called Middle East diplomatic quartet (Russia, the United Nations, the United States and the European Union), along with four Arab states — Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, Lavrov says.

“It would also be important to invite Saudi Arabia, which is behind the Arab peace initiative,” he adds, without offering a specific date or site for the eventual conference.

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