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    PACE DISCUSSES MIDDLE EAST SETTLEMENT IN ISTANBUL

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    ISTANBUL, April 7, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The Middle East sub-committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Wednesday opened a session in Istanbul to discuss the Middle East peace settlement.

    The session is attended by deputies of Israel's Knesset, politicians from Israel, Jordan, Turkey and Palestine, as well as by US diplomats, RIA Novosti learned from Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Russian Federation Council's international affairs committee and PACE deputy speaker, who also took part in the meeting.

    The session's participants are discussing the American concept of the so-called Greater Middle East, the situation around Iraq and the European vision of the Middle East settlement, he said.

    "Terrorism is the main obstacle to achieving peace in the Middle East, it is the keynote of the meeting," he announced.

    "Russia sticks to its principled stand: terrorism should be mercilessly fought back," the Senator said. "We cannot make concessions for terrorists or they will impose their will on us," he is convinced.

    "Russia has been in the avant-garde of the anti-terrorist coalition, we cannot have double standards, yet we believe that this fight should be conducted within clear international framework," he said. Otherwise, "leaving the legitimate field we will become terrorists' equals," he added.

    According to Margelov, the PACE sub-committee intends to discuss the situation with the Road Map and the work of the quartet of Middle East mediators (the UN, the EU, Russia and the USA), which is the most adequate mechanism of international assistance to the peace plan. The participants will also touch upon the role Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt are playing in this process, he said.

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