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    Russian foreign minister to attend Mideast peace conference

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    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov leaves for the United States on Sunday to attend a Middle East peace forum.

    MOSCOW, November 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov leaves for the United States on Sunday to attend a Middle East peace forum.

    The conference, to be held in Annapolis, U.S., on November 27, will seek to make progress on the issue of Palestinian statehood. The conference will be preceded by a session of the Quartet of international mediators in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - the U.S., Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - to be held on November 26.

    Arab countries will be represented by their foreign ministers at the Mideast peace forum, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal earlier said.

    Arab leaders previously expressed doubts over the conference, demanding a more specific agenda and questioning whether it will be effective given the current outbreak of violence in the region.

    The Palestinians want a detailed agreement specifying each party's commitment concerning key points, such as future borders, the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and Israeli settlements. Israel is looking for a more general guideline.

    Israel has sought to retain control over East Jerusalem and key settlements in the West Bank as part of an eventual agreement.

    Israel's prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said on Tuesday following a meeting with the Egyptian president that he expected a final peace deal to be signed with the Palestinians in 2008 shortly after the conference in the U.S.

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