Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated on Friday that a peace conference should be held as soon as possible in Russia and added that peace requires a comprehensive truce and a complete halt of Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Abbas's came during a press conference with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the presidential headquarters in Ramallah city, north of Jerusalem. He added that that Lavrov's visit is part of bilateral Russian/Palestinian relations and is focused on discussing the peace process. He also welcomed Russia's role in pushing the peace process forward.
President Abbas also stated that there was discussion of Russian support of the Palestinian Authority, the internal situation in Palestine and the internal Palestinian dialog in Yemen. He stated that the Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh offered an initiative which was published in local Palestinian newspapers, and that official delegates of both the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Hamas travelled to Yemen to hold talks.
“The talks started on Wednesday, we didn't reach any agreement yet”, Abbas stated, “but the Yemeni president asked the delegates to stay until Saturday and we hope to reach a positive agreement”.
Meanwhile, Lavrov called for ending the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip in order to end the ongoing humanitarian crisis Palestinian civilians are facing. He expressed Russia's concern over the ongoing Israeli settlement activities in the occupied West Bank, and added that Russia is trying to arrange a conference in Moscow as a continuation of the Annapolis Summit.
Lavrov added that Russia held talks with the Quartet Committee and the United Nations in addition to several Arab countries in order to prepare for the conference.
He also said that Abbas and the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, are determined to resume the peace talks in order to achieve a basic agreement this year.