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Palestinian leader seeks Moscow's political backing - experts

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The head of the Palestinian National Authority will be looking to win political support from the Russian leadership during a three-day working visit to Moscow starting July 29, a Russian political expert said Friday.
MOSCOW, July 27 (RIA Novosti) - The head of the Palestinian National Authority will be looking to win political support from the Russian leadership during a three-day working visit to Moscow starting July 29, a Russian political expert said Friday.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Thursday Mahmoud Abbas' visit would be his first trip to Russia since June's inter-Palestinian clashes between presidential-led Fatah supporters and radical Hamas, which led to the Gaza Strip falling into the hands of Hamas.

"Abbas's main aim is to win support from Russia, from Russian diplomacy," Sergei Oznobishchev, the director of the Strategic Assessment and Analysis Institute, said. "Abbas wants to know how, and who, will get our backing in the Middle East - he wants to clarify the situation."

A political split between Fatah and Hamas led to the collapse of the national unity government and the establishment of dual power, with the West Bank under the PNA head's jurisdiction, receiving western aid, while the Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas, is completely isolated and under an embargo by the PNA, U.S. and Israel.

Oznobishchev said Russia has not yet decided as to which political force in the Mideast region will get its support.

Another expert Yevgeny Satanovsky, the head of the Middle East Institute, said Russia could become a mediator between the conflicting sides.

"Russia could play a special role, including as a particular mediator in relations with Hamas leaders," he said, at the same time warning against getting too involved in the conflict in the Palestinian territories.

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