Abbas to visit Moscow for peace conference planning

Russian news agencies say Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will travel to Moscow in April for talks on holding a Middle East peace conference. ITAR-Tass and Interfax are quoting Abbas's aide Nabil Shaath as saying that Abbas will hold talks with President Vladimir Putin, President-elect Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on April 18. Moscow offered to hold a conference on the Israeli-Palestinian peace effort, as a follow-up to the summit held in Annapolis, Maryland in November. But persistent violence between Israel and Hamas militants has made planning that difficult. Shaath is quoted as saying that May would be the best time to hold it, but a date will be set only after Abbas meets Lavrov.