Dmitry Medvedev 224.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Despite tensions with the West which led to Moscow's decision this week not to participate in high-level talks on Iran, Russia will take part in Friday's Middle East Quartet meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Russian officials said Thursday.
The Quartet is made up of the US, Russia, the EU and the UN. A senior Russian diplomatic official in Israel said Moscow would "certainly" take part in the meeting, which is not expected to make any dramatic decisions, but rather to take stock of the current situation.
Explaining Moscow's interest in taking part in the Quartet meeting, despite not wanting to participate in the talks on Iran, one diplomatic official said, "I don't think anyone doesn't want to be part of the Quartet, because it gives you influence. They may not be smiling at each other, but I'm sure everyone will be at the meeting."
Among those expected to attend are US Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Quartet envoy Tony Blair.
While there was some anticipation earlier in the summer that Rice would want to present a document at the meeting codifying what the sides have agreed upon so far as a starting-off point for the new administration, those efforts led nowhere in the face of opposition from both the Palestinians and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
In light of the political uncertainty in Israel, the transition period in the US and the lack of clarity over who will head the PA next year, there was little expectation in diplomatic circles that anything "dramatic" would emerge from the meeting. According to diplomatic officials, rather than discussing an interim document, the emphasis now would be on assessing where the sides stand on the negotiations, as well as what impact the political situation in Jerusalem will likely have on the talks.
Another issue likely to be raised, but unlikely to be settled, is Russia's call for an international peace conference to be held in Moscow. The Russians have been raising this issue ever since the Annapolis conference in November, but so far have been unable to generate much enthusiasm in either Washington or Jerusalem - and that was even before the conflict in Georgia, which has significantly raised the tension between Russia and the West.