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    Russia urges Israel to end West Bank settlement expansion

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    Russia calls on Israel to end all settlement activity in the West Bank, Moscow's special envoy to the Middle East said on Sunday during a visit to Syria.

    DAMASCUS, July 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russia calls on Israel to end all settlement activity in the West Bank, Moscow's special envoy to the Middle East said on Sunday during a visit to Syria.

    Israel has refused to entirely freeze the expansion of Jewish outposts in the West Bank, despite a statement from the quartet of Middle East mediators last month calling for a complete halt.

    After meeting with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov told reporters: "Moscow calls for an end to all forms of settlement activity, including natural growth."

    During their meeting, the diplomats discussed means of boosting the peace process in the region, and noted the "strong determination of the international community to renew dialogue with the goal of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict," Saltanov said.

    On relations between Russia and Syria, he said they are "developing successfully."

    Russia, along with the other three members of the Mideast Quartet - the United Nations, European Union, and United States - agreed at a foreign ministers' meeting in late June that the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to create a Palestinian state.

    The Quartet also agreed that the situation in Gaza is unsustainable, and voiced serious concerns over the humanitarian situation in the enclave.

     

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