Lavrov: Arab League Should Join Middle East Quartet

© RIA Novosti . Vladimir Astapkovich / Go to the photo bankThe Arab League should join the Middle East Quartet mediating the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
The Arab League should join the Middle East Quartet mediating the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday. - Sputnik International
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Speaking at the Russian-Arab forum in Sudan, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said that an Arab League representative with a full-fledged member status should join the Middle East Quartet of the UN, US, EU and Russia.

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KHARTOUM, December 3 (Sputnik) – The Arab League should join the Middle East Quartet mediating the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.

"We hear criticism of the Quartet of Middle East mediators. We think this criticism is justified, because the Quartet has long remained idle. We stand for activation of this site but not in its old format," Lavrov said at the Russian-Arab forum in Sudan.

The minister also said an Arab League representative with full-fledged member status could join the Quartet, because "the Arab peace initiative can pave the way for sustainable and long-term reconciliation."

"Hope these proposals will be heard by our Western partners," Lavrov said.

Earlier in July, Russia's envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin said that the Quartet must be expanded with representatives from the Arab League.

Recently, the Quartet, established in 2002 and consisting of Russia, the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and the United Kingdom, has been accused of ineffectiveness amid lack of significant progress in peaceful relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The Arab League, a regional organization of 22 members, established in 1945, focuses on issues within the Arab world, and looks after member interests in economy, politics, culture and religion.

Time for UN Security Council to Discuss Palestinian Issue

Moscow believes that it is time for the UN Security Council to begin discussions on the Palestinian issue, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.

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“We know about the plans to use the UN Security Council for a serious discussion on what is happening in Palestinian-Israeli relations. We are sure that it is time for such a discussion. We believe that it should be used by the utmost in order to confirm the goals that have already been delivered to the global community on the Palestinian-Israeli settlement, and we need to do everything in order to return to the negotiation process,” Lavrov said during a Russian-Arab forum in the Sudanese capital.

Direct talks between Israel and Palestine started in 2013 and were mediated by US Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry suggested a plan, according to which the negotiations were supposed to last up to nine months, and the peace deal was set to be reached by April 29. The talks failed with both sides blaming each other.

The latest round of the Israeli-Palestinian talks was held this year in spring, but did not bring tangible results.

Avigdor Liberman, Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Israel, at the ninth meeting of the joint Russian-Israeli Committee on trade and economic cooperation. - Sputnik International
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Palestinians seek the creation of an independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, partially occupied by Israel, and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, and want Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories it took after the 1967 war. Though Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it still maintains a land, air and sea blockade against the territories.

In October, Palestinians worked out a draft UN Security Council resolution that defines strict time limits for Israel to end its occupation and remove settlements before November 2016.

The State of Palestine has been recognized by 135 out of 193 member states of the United Nations.

Lavrov Plans to Meet US Secretary Kerry in Basel This Week

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday told RIA Novosti that he plans to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Council of Foreign Ministries in Basel, Switzerland, this week.

“Yes, I plan to,” Lavrov said told the news agency during his visit to the Sudanese capital.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the meeting may take place on December 4-5.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, right, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at their meeting at the Russian Ambassador's residence in Paris. - Sputnik International
Lavrov, Kerry Discuss Ukraine Settlement During Vienna Meeting: Moscow
The last bilateral meeting between Lavrov and Kerry took place in Vienna in late November as the diplomats attended talks between the P5+1 group and Iran on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the diplomats also held "an intense exchange of opinions on the situation in Ukraine" and discussed the Minsk agreements on the sidelines of the Vienna talks.

Relations between Russia and the United States have deteriorated in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis, as Washington has accused Moscow of interfering in Ukraine"s internal affairs, claims repeatedly denied by the Russian side.

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