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    Clinton plans to visit Moscow for Mideast quartet meeting

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    The U.S. State Department has confirmed that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is going to attend the upcoming Mideast quartet meeting in Moscow.

    The U.S. State Department has confirmed that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is going to attend the upcoming Mideast quartet meeting in Moscow, which will take place amid growing tensions in the region.

    The meeting of the Quartet of international mediators in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which comprises Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, will be held in Moscow on March 19.

    "I think she's planned to be - I don't have a formal trip announcement to make, but she's planning to be in Moscow next week for the Quartet meeting, as was announced by Foreign Minister Lavrov," the U.S. State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, said during a press briefing on Wednesday.

    Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists he intended to hold bilateral talks with representatives of all Quartet members, including the U.S. secretary of state, during the meeting in Moscow. He said the agenda of the talks, along with the Middle East settlement, would also include other issues.

    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also expected to attend the Quartet meeting.

    The Middle East peace process made progress earlier this month, when the Palestinian authorities agreed to hold indirect peace talks with Israel mediated by the United States after a 14-month break.

    However, Israeli government's plans to build 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, announced on Tuesday, have posed a new threat to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The move was condemned by the Palestinian, U.S. authorities and the European Union.

    Settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, both occupied by Israel since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, has been the main obstacle to reviving peace talks, stalled since an Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in December 2008.

    Israel launched an attack on the Palestinian enclave in a bid to put an end to the firing of homemade rockets at southern Israel by Palestinian militants based in Gaza. The conflict left 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.

    Under the internationally agreed roadmap for Middle East peace, Israel is obliged to freeze all settlement construction activity, and remove unauthorized outposts built since 2001 from the Palestinian territories.

    MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti)

     

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