Saudi FM, security chief to visit Moscow over Mideast crisis

MOSCOW, July 25 (RIA Novosti) - Saudi Arabia's foreign minister and national security chief will arrive in Moscow Tuesday to discuss ways to curb violence in the Middle East, the Saudi foreign ministry said.

"The visit will be part of the diplomatic efforts Saudi Arabia has been making to find a solution that would end the bloodshed and help embark on the road toward a political and diplomatic resolution of the Lebanese-Israeli conflict," a ministry official said on the telephone.

From Moscow, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal and accompanying officials will fly to Rome for an international conference on the Middle East, the Saudi Embassy in Moscow said.

The foreign ministers of Russia, European countries, the United States, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and representatives of the UN, European Union and World Bank will gather in Rome July 26 to focus on deploying peacekeepers in the zone of conflict between Lebanon and Israel.

More than 350 people have been reported dead in Lebanon since Israel launched military action 13 days ago after Islamic militant group Hizbollah captured two Israeli servicemen in a cross-border raid. At least 600,000 people are thought to have fled the fighting. In all, 40 Israelis are also believed to have also lost their lives in missile attacks conducted by Hizbollah.

The humanitarian situation is becoming increasingly worse in Lebanon, which is running out of fresh water, medicines and other vital supplies. Israeli shelling and air attacks have destroyed bridges, roads and other infrastructure impeding humanitarian aid deliveries to Lebanon.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday the conference would also touch upon a ceasefire, the release of Israeli hostages - the condition set by Tel Aviv for the start of ceasefire talks - and Lebanese prisoners of war, and security measures.

The Saudi diplomat said the foreign minister would again condemn at the Rome meeting Israel's aggression and demand the world community step in to protect the people of Lebanon.

Saudi media reports say the Arab state has devised an own resolution plan, which proposes the exchange of prisoners of war, deployment of Lebanese troops in southern territories controlled by Hizbollah, and international support for the Lebanese government.

The Rome meeting will be a further attempt to establish peace in the Middle East after a series of visits to the region by senior diplomats, including Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov and U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice.

Talks with Israel and other regional countries have so far brought no results.

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