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    RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO TAKE PART IN LONDON MIDEAST PEACE MEETING

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    MOSCOW, March 1 (RIA Novosti). Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will take part in a meeting of the quartet of Mideast peace mediators.

    According to Official Spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko, the Quartet foreign ministers' meeting has been called by the UK and will therefore take place in London.

    "The purpose of the forum getting together Palestinian leaders, the international quartet (EU, Russia, UN, and the U.S.), and key donors is to support the new Palestinian leadership. Israel has not been expected to attend," Mr. Yakovenko said.

    According to the official spokesman, the forum will help get the sides of the dispute from the recent calm in the Israeli-Palestinian relations and ongoing pullout of Israeli troops from Gaza to a full enforcement of all provisions set forth in the Road Map, which both Israel and the Palestinian National Authority claim they welcome.

    "It is important not to lose momentum. If we do, this might disrupt the ceasefire agreement and undermine the entire process of negotiations," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

    The meeting is expected to confirm that the scheduled pullout of all Israeli assets from Gaza has to proceed in coordination with Palestinians and Egypt and envisage that the ultimate goal of the process should be the creation of an independent Palestinian state living beside Israel in an environment of peace and security, as the Road Map suggests.

    When asked about international sponsorship of the Palestinian National Authority, Mr. Yakovenko said Russia was ready and willing to effectively support the PNA in various fields.

    The forthcoming meeting of the International Quartet is supposed to set the tune for the discussions. The Quartet's highest priority for the time being is to determine best ways to enforce the Road Map.

    The Quartet will analyze how the sides of the conflict have stuck to their Sharm el-Sheikh commitments, and define additional steps required to ensure a sustained ceasefire; material progress in providing security, welfare, and PNA reform; and full-fledged and vibrant negotiations.

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