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Putin to visit Israel, West Bank

Russian President Vladimir Putin (Reuters/File)

By Ma'an News Agency | Bethlehem | 25 Jun 2012

Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Monday, in the first leg of a Middle East tour that will take him to the West Bank and Jordan on Tuesday.

In Israel, Putin is scheduled to meet with President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and attend the opening of a monument honoring "the Red Army victory over Nazi Germany."

He will then visit Bethlehem in the West Bank, where he will meet with his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas before the two inaugurate a newly-built Russian educational center in the city.

The Russian president will later open a guesthouse for Russian pilgrims near the River Jordan.

Palestinian ambassador to Russia Fayed Mustafa told official PA news agency Wafa that Abbas and Putin will discuss economic ties ahead of a planned economic agreement.

Mustafa said the visit, Putin’s second to the Palestinian territory is significant as Russia is a member of the Middle East Quartet and United Nations Security Council.

As Quartet-sponsored peace talks between Israel and Palestine remain stalled, Abbas has raised the prospect of returning to the UN with his membership bid, which failed to get off the ground last year.

A Putin deputy told Israeli newspaper Israel Today that the Russian president will urge Abbas not to take unilateral steps as they discuss Israel's continued settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.

The newspaper said Netanyahu will try to convince Putin of the necessity of imposing sanctions on Iran, and will discuss Russia's shipment of weapons to neighboring conflict-torn Syria.



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