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    Russia to meet Hamas leaders to prevent Mideast escalation

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    MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is seeking to meet with Hamas representatives in order to prevent the further escalation of Palestinian-Israeli tensions, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

    Following President Vladimir Putin's statement that he plans to invite leaders of Hamas, widely regarded as a terrorist organization in the West, to Moscow, Mikhail Kamynin said Russia wanted "to maintain the peace process on the basis of the roadmap and to continue seeking solutions that are acceptable to Palestine, Israel and the international community."

    Kamynin said Moscow respected the choice of the Palestinian people made during legitimate democratic elections, and added: "Russia is set to promote the practical implementation of the approach that the Middle East Quartet agreed upon at their meeting in London January 30."

    At their meeting, the quartet of international mediators in the conflict resolution (the UN, Russia, the European Union and the United States) recognized the elections of January 25 in Palestine, but concluded that further financial aid for the autonomy's reforms would depend on the new government's policy, and urged Hamas to lay down arms, recognize the state of Israel and observe all effective agreements, including the road map.

    Kamynin said the goal of the resolution was to make it clear to Hamas leaders that they should proceed from the interests of Palestinians and seek to create an independent and viable state co-existing in peace with Israel.

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