Putin reaffirms Abbas's leadership

July 31, 2007 16:53

President Vladimir Putin told Mahmoud Abbas Tuesday that he is the legitimate leader of all Palestinians, as the PA Chairman continued his visit to Russia seeking support for his government in his standoff with Hamas. Abbas, meanwhile, again accused his Hamas rivals, who took over the Gaza Strip last month, of committing crimes, and called for the radical Islamic group's leadership to take responsibility. The visit is Abbas's first to Russia since the Hamas takeover - which 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. Russia, which is a member of the Quartet of Middle East negotiators, has also hosted Hamas's top leaders for talks in the past year and there was speculation that Abbas's visit to Moscow was an attempt to garner more support for his Fatah movement and his government.

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