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Putin speaks to Olmert as Hamas leaders visit Russia

Written by: Staff
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MOSCOW, Mar 5 (Reuters) Russian President Vladimir Putin today spoke to Israel's interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about the situation in westasia as leaders of the Islamist militant group Hamas continued their visit to Moscow.

The call was made at the initiative of the Russian side, a Kremlin statement said.

''There was a detailed exchange of opinions on the perspectives for the development of the situation in the Middle East in the light of the recent negotiations in Moscow with the leaders of the Palestinian movement Hamas,'' it said.

Hamas has rejected Russian appeals for it to recognise Israel and to disband its armed wing, senior Hamas leaders said yesterday. The visit to Moscow is the first trip to a major foreign power by Hamas leaders.

Hamas is trying to form the next Palestinian government after its victory in January's Palestinian election.

Reuters SY RN1859

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