abbas closeup 298 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Russia on Sunday for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, who has been seeking to raise Moscow's Mideast role and has stressed that the Hamas-led Palestinian government should not be isolated internationally.
Abbas, who was to meet with Putin at his residence in Sochi, arrived at the Black Sea resort city Sunday evening, Russian news agencies reported, after an aide to Palestinian envoy Atta Khairy said in Jordan that Abbas had left Amman for Russia.
Palestinian diplomats in Moscow could not be reached for comment, and the Kremlin and Russian Foreign Ministry said it could not say anything about Abbas's plans except for his meeting with Putin.
Russia earlier this month sent $10 million in urgent financial aid to the Palestinian Authority.
Russia's stance had contrasted with that of the European Union and the United States, which cut off aid to the Palestinian government to protest the terrorist group's refusal to recognize Israel and renounce violence since its January victory in legislative elections.
But the Quartet of Middle East negotiators - Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations - decided Tuesday to set up a temporary fund to funnel aid directly to the Palestinian people while bypassing the Hamas government.
The Palestinian ambassador to Moscow, Bakir Abdel Munem, on Friday praised Moscow's decision to release the funds.
Putin invited Hamas leaders to Moscow for a March meeting that provoked anger in Israel and surprise among the other members of the so-called Quartet. But Russia has made no apparent headway in persuading Hamas to soften its stance.
Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency on Sunday quoted a Hamas spokesman, Ali Barakat, as thanking Putin for showing friendliness to the Palestinian people - "unlike leaders in the US and EU" - and saying that Hamas and the Palestinian government "hope the meeting in Sochi will invigorate the situation in all areas." Putin met with Abbas in Ramallah during a historic visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories just over a year ago.
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