PNA ready to boost interaction with Israel - Russian diplomat

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MOSCOW, June 23 (RIA Novosti) - Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), has told the Russian foreign minister that the PNA is ready to increase interaction with Israel. In a telephone conversation with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Abbas said the PNA leadership was ready to intensify cooperation in the light of Israel's forthcoming withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.

A statement on the Russian Foreign Ministry Web site said that Abbas stressed it was important that both sides respected their commitments, including the agreements reached in Sharm-al-Sheikh.

The statement also said Abbas had praised Russia's support for the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and urged Russia to continue playing a proactive role in the Middle East in general.

In turn, the statement reported that Lavrov said: "Russia attaches great significance to the continuation of Palestinian-Israeli dialogue, and considers the peaceful and coordinated withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank as an important step toward new efforts to implement the 'road map' peace plan."

These issues will be the focus of a discussion at a regular meeting of the Middle East Quartet of international intermediaries (Russia, the United States, the EU and UN) that will be held in London today. The statement on the Foreign Ministry's Web site said Lavrov had confirmed that Russia was prepared to help the PNA to strengthen Palestinian statehood.

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