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    Russia intends to invite Hamas leadership to Moscow soon

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    MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - In a bold move Thursday, Russian President Vlaidmir Putin said he is planning to invite the leaders of Hamas, widely regarded as a terrorist organization in the West, to Moscow.

    "Today, [we] must recognize that Hamas came to power via legitimate, democratic elections in the Palestinian National Authority, which is why we must respect the choice of the Palestinian people," Putin told a news conference in Madrid.

    He said, however, it is necessary to search for solutions that would be acceptable to the new Palestinian government, the world community and Israel.

    Putin rebuked a journalist who asserted that Russia's activity in the process of resolving the Middle East crisis had slowed down saying that the Russian Foreign Ministry was working intensively within the framework of the quartet of international mediators in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (the United Nations, European Union, Russia and the United States) and at a bilateral level with all the involved parties, including Israel and Palestine.

    Hamas came to power after elections in the Palestinian National Authority at the end of January. It has accepted responsibility for a number of terrorist acts in Israel and refuses to recognize Israel as a country. The United States said that it could not support terrorism by cooperating with Hamas.

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