Lavrov to visit West Asian countries

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Moscow, Mar 11 (UNI) Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will visit Syria, Israel and the Palestinian territories on March 19-21 to discuss holding a West Asia peace conference here.

''Many of our partners confirm they are interested in holding an international West Asia conference in Moscow,'' the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement today.

Mr Kamynin said the conference was being convened ''to stop setbacks in the peace process, and give the sides a chance to deliver their Annapolis commitments.'' He said the issue of a West Asia meeting was being discussed with the Palestinians, the Israelis, countries involved in mediating the conflict and members of the Arab League.

Mr Kamynin said the West Asia was passing through an increased violence between the Palestinians and Israelis and an ''acute humanitarian crisis'' in the Gaza Strip.

He pointed out that the agenda for the upcoming meeting would include Palestinian and Israeli relations, finding solutions for the Gaza humanitarian crisis, measures to counter violence and resuming the peace negotiations.

Mr Kamynin also said Mr Lavrov would attend a meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in the capital of Senegal, Dakar, on March 13-14.

''For Russia - a country with a significant Islamic population - development of friendly relations and cooperation with the Islamic world is a strategic course,'' he said, adding the relations were ''focused on international peace and security, political conflict settlement and the war on international terrorism.'' UNI XC PD RS1852

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