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Russia calls on Israel, Palestinians to halt hostilities

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Israelis and Palestinians should cease hostilities soon, the Russian Foreign Ministry said after a meeting between the Russian foreign minister and a Palestinian legislative council deputy Tuesday.
MOSCOW, April 1 (RIA Novosti) - Israelis and Palestinians should cease hostilities soon, the Russian Foreign Ministry said after a meeting between the Russian foreign minister and a Palestinian legislative council deputy Tuesday.

"We stressed the necessity to cease the military confrontation between the Palestinians and Israelis, as well as any terrorist acts or violence resulting in the suffering of civilians," the ministry said. "The importance of the restoration of Palestinian unity for the sake of the success of the peace process and the establishment of a Palestinian state were also noted."

Palestinian presidential aide Nabil Shaath met in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov, who is also the Russian presidential Mideast envoy.

Another presidential aide, Nemer Hamad, said on Monday that an official visit by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to Moscow had been tentatively set for April 18.

Following talks with Lavrov earlier in the month, Abbas said the Palestinian National Administration (PNA) backed Russia's plans to hold an international meeting on the Middle East in Moscow.

Abbas' Fatah movement was expelled from the Gaza Strip following clashes with the hard-line Islamic group Hamas last June. It receives financial assistance from the West, while Gaza is fully isolated and boycotted by the PNA, the U.S. and Israel.

Israeli troops ended a devastating offensive in the Gaza Strip in early March, which saw the deaths of 120 Palestinians, many of them women and children. Israel said the offensive was in response to continued rocket attacks on Israeli border towns from the Gaza Strip.

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