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    RUSSIA HAS NO DOUBLE STANDARDS ON TERRORISM, PACE VICE SPEAKER ASSURES

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    MOSCOW, APRIL 7, 2004 (RIA NOVOSTI cotrrespondent Marianna Belenkaya) - An effective fight against terrorism is the key to Mideastern settlement, argues Mikhail Margelov, Chairman of the International Affairs Committee in the Federation Council (Russia's upper house of parliament) and Vice Speaker of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

    Margelov delivered a keynote speech today at an Istanbul session of the PACE Political Commission's Subcommittee for the Middle East. The session brought together members of the PACE and the Knesset (Israel's Parliament), as well as Arab politicians, U.S. diplomats, and Russian scholars.

    The PACE Subcommittee for the Mideast has traditionally been focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Now, however, it is also paying a lot of attention to developments in Iraq and to the U.S.-sponsored plan for the Greater Middle East.

    As Margelov said in a telephone interview with RIA, statements from both houses of Russia's parliament were distributed among the Istanbul session participants Wednesday. In those statements, the Russian lawmakers stress the need to engage all of Iraq's political and public forces, including the Opposition, into the effort to restore stability to that country. They also point out that settlement in Iraq for the sake of the Iraqi people as well as for world peace and security will be impossible to achieve unless the United Nations takes an active part in the process. Speaking of the PACE members' reaction to those messages, Margelov noted that many of them had expressed support for their Russian counterparts' stance.

    Speaking of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, our interviewee said the political process would be impossible to resume there until the conflicting sides declared a cease-fire. The Russian government maintains that no concessions should be made to terrorists so as not to let them dictate their terms, Margelov said. According to him, Russia has no double standards on terrorism and will always remain part of the anti-terrorist coalition. But it is important that the war on terrorism be waged in compliance with the international law, he underlined.

    Margelov deems it essential to get the Israeli-Palestinian political dialogue back on track, including at the top governmental level. "We must not let terrorists have the right of veto on the resumption of the political process," he emphasized.

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