Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, praising him for his approach to the peace process.

Speaking following the leaders' meeting in Bethlehem, Putin said that the "Palestinian leadership, and the president personally, have been behaving responsibly to achieve peace based on the two-state solution."

Putin said that the Soviet Union had recognized a Palestinian state in 1988 and Russia's view on the matter had not changed.

Abbas called for an international peace conference to take place in Moscow, according to the Bethlehem-based Ma'an News Agency.

The PA president reiterated his position that peace negotiations would not resume until Israel halted settlement activity.

According to Ma'an the two leaders also discussed efforts at Hamas-PA reconciliation.

"We know that Russia is concerned about reconciliation, and I assured Putin that we are going ahead with it. If a date will be set for legislative and presidential elections, that will be the gate to reconciliation," Abbas was quoted as saying.

Putin arrived in Bethlehem Tuesday morning, visiting the Church of the Nativity. On Monday he met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. He visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem early on Tuesday morning.

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