Russian FM to visit Middle East to stem deterioration in region

Russia's foreign minister will head to the Middle East next week to help stem growing violence in the region and improve deteriorating relations between Israel and the Palestinians, a Foreign Ministry official said Tuesday. Sergei Lavrov will visit Syria and Israel, as well as the Palestinian territories, ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement. During the March 19-21 visit, Lavrov will address "the problems with Palestinian-Israeli relations, ways out of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the suspension of violence, the resumption of negotiations aimed at the Palestinian-Israeli situation and other negotiating tracks, including the Syrian one," Kamynin said. In Paris, Lavrov told a news conference he would seek to understand "who is ready and who is not" for a Mideast conference Russia has offered to host in Moscow.