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Halting Palestinian govt aid "a mistake" - Russia

By Staff
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MOSCOW, Apr 11 (Reuters) Halting aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian government is a mistake, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today, Interfax news agency reported.

The European Union this week temporarily suspended direct aid to the Palestinian government to pressure it to recognise Israel, end violence and accept peace accords.

Lavrov said Russia would not be halting aid but he said Hamas must meet the demands of international mediators.

''But in order for that to happen, we need to work with Hamas, and not boycott them,'' Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying.

Lavrov said that it was wrong to deny aid to the Palestinians ''purely because in democratic elections they elected a government made up entirely out of Hamas members.'' ''We are convinced that this approach is mistaken.'' Hamas, a militant Islamist organization that has carried out suicide bombings in Israel, won a sweeping victory in Palestinian parliamentary elections in January.

The EU suspension does not cover humanitarian aid disbursed through international and non-governmental organisations.

The United States and Israel have also suspended aid to the Hamas-led government, triggering a financial crisis in the Palestinian territories.

REUTERS CH PM1729

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