President Vladimir Putin told Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday that he is the legitimate leader of all Palestinians, Russian news agencies reported.
"I want to assure you that Russia will support you as the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people. I am convinced that you will do everything to restore the unity of the Palestinian people," Putin was quoted by ITAR-Tass and Interfax as telling Abbas during his visit to Moscow.
"We have repeatedly come out in favor of the legal defense of the Palestinian people, down to the creation of a Palestinian state," ITAR-Tass quoted Putin as saying.
The visit is Abbas' first to Russia since Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June. The takeover prompted a flurry of diplomatic activity, with the international community lining up behind Abbas and the West Bank-based government of moderates he has installed.