FM: View ME conflict in wider context

Lieberman meets Medvedev, Lavrov in Moscow, says peace plan should bring in Saudis, Gulf states.

lieberman lavrov 248.88 ap (photo credit: AP)
lieberman lavrov 248.88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
With Russia keen on holding an international peace conference, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday in Moscow after meeting with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be seen within a wider regional context. Since the conflict is essentially a greater one between extremists and moderates, it must be solved within the framework of a comprehensive plan that brings in Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf states and other countries, Lieberman said. Lieberman also met Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said after the meeting that the two had discussed the parameters of the proposed Moscow conference. No date for the conference has yet been set. Lieberman met Medvedev and Lavrov in Moscow, before flying to St. Petersburg to meet Putin. According to a statement issued by Lieberman's office, the foreign minister reiterated Israel's position that it would be willing to open negotiations with Syria without any preconditions. Regarding Iran, Russia's foreign minister said the new US administration's approach to Teheran had increased chances of resolving the standoff over its nuclear program, but gave no indication of whether Moscow would increase pressure on the Islamic republic. Lavrov, speaking at a press conference with Lieberman after their meeting, ceded no ground publicly over Russia's engagement with Hamas. Lieberman said last week that Israel was "disappointed" that Lavrov had met Hamas head Khaled Mashaal last month in Damascus. "We are sending the corresponding signals to Hamas and [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas in terms of the necessity to cooperate in the most serious way," Lavrov said. He also said Hamas must help create the conditions for removal of the blockade of Gaza. The Interfax news agency cited an unnamed Russian military official as saying Tuesday that Moscow would deliver 50 armored personnel carriers to the PA from July to September. Israel had initially balked at the planned deliveries, but has since given its approval. Russia says the vehicles would be used to help the Palestinians keep order. It was Lieberman's first visit to Moscow as foreign minister, and he and Lavrov focused their comments on Russian-Israeli relations. Lieberman said the countries' ties "are probably at their highest point" since diplomatic relations were established 18 years ago. He added that he and Lavrov had reached agreement on a number of bilateral issues, including cooperation in space.