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    Russia welcomes Israeli moves to withdraw from Gaza - Putin

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    MOSCOW, 18 August (RIA Novosti)-Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he welcomed Israel's moves to withdraw from the Gaza strip.

    "We believe that the situation should develop in line with the road map peace plan and, of course, welcome Israel's steps to withdraw its settlements and forces from the Gaza strip," the president said after talks with King of Jordan Abdullah II.

    Putin said he believed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had displayed courage in pursuing his decisions, and added that it was extremely important that every effort be made to prevent any extreme, or extremist, acts happening.

    The president said that he understood after a telephone conversation with the head of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, that the Palestinians were ready to work toward this goal.

    "Therefore, Russia, as a co-sponsor of the Middle East peace process will support both sides in their efforts to implement the road map," Putin said.

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