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Putin pledges support to Abbas

By Vladimir Radyuhin

MOSCOW, JAN. 31. Russia has pledged support for the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, in his efforts to achieve a peace settlement with Israel.

"We are prepared to work actively with you and the international community in resolving these problems," the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, told the visiting Palestinian leader in the Kremlin today. "We have great hopes that you will be able to take decisive steps to improve relations with Israel and develop the Palestinian economy," Mr. Putin stressed.

Russia is the first member of the West Asia "quartet" of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. He praised Russia's "decisive" role in achieving peace in West Asia.

"There is no doubt that having Russia on our side and enjoying its support both in bilateral format and in the `quartet' will be decisive in securing peace," he said.

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