Medvedev: Include Hamas in talks

In Turkey, Russian president says Gaza on brink of "human tragedy."

medvedev in turkey 311 (photo credit: AP)
medvedev in turkey 311
(photo credit: AP)
ANKARA, Turkey — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged the United States on Wednesday to actively work to achieve peace in the Mideast with the support of other nations, and hinted that no one should be excluded from the peace process, including Hamas..
His comment appeared to indicate Moscow's willingness to become an active Middle East mediator. On Tuesday, during a visit to Syria, Medvedev said Israeli-Arab tensions threaten to draw the Middle East into a new catastrophe, adding Moscow's weight to a diplomatic push to ease antagonism between Israel and Syria.
"The United States must be active and other nations must contribute," Medvedev told a joint news conference in Ankara with Turkish President Abdullah Gul.
Washington recently launched US-mediated peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, but signs of trouble already have emerged. On Monday, Israel said it doesn't intend to halt construction of Jewish housing in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians accused Israel of undermining trust and urged US President Barack Obama to intervene.
Medvedev said no one should be excluded from the Mideast peace process, a clear reference to exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal who met with the Russian president in Damascus on Tuesday.
"We have to include all conflicting parties and not exclude anyone from this process," Medvedev said.
The Russian president said countries that are not close to the region also have "responsibilities" to work for peace in the entire Mideast.
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"We are facing a human tragedy in Gaza, so that there is need for more efforts, even though we can't solve all problems," Medvedev said.
Gul said the Mideast conflict is the source of "unrest" in many parts of the world and must be stopped.
Medvedev also said Iran must "adopt a constructive approach in some way," as the US and its allies rally for new UN sanctions against Teheran regarding its nuclear program. Iran has denied charges that it is secretly building nuclear weapons.
"The Mideast must be a region cleared from nuclear weapons," Medvedev said. "The use of nuclear weapons in the region would be a disaster."
Medvedev said Russia would hold talks with Iran and Israel on the issue.
On Tuesday, Russia urged Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and open up its long-established but unannounced nuclear arsenal to the UN monitoring agency.
Israel's officially unacknowledged arsenal of perhaps 80 nuclear weapons is the only such stockpile in the Mideast.
Russia expands involvement in Turkey
Later Wednesday, Turkey and Russia were to sign a series of cooperation agreements in trade and tourism, including the lifting of entry visas in a bid to further bring the former Cold War era rivals closer.
Medvedev and Gul vowed to triple the bilateral trade volume to around US$100 billion in the next five years.
Turkey, a US ally, served as NATO's foremost base during the Cold War but has seen its relations rapidly develop with Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Gul said several new energy projects are on the agenda, including a pipeline that could pump Russian oil from Turkey's Black Sea coast to the Mediterranean and construction of its first nuclear power plant with Russian help.
Medvedev, meanwhile, supported reconciliation efforts between Turkey and Armenia while acknowledging that "it is a difficult issue."