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Putin to Abbas: We support you

Russia is scaling back its ties with Hamas.

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow on Monday in a show of support for the Western-backed leader after he broke with Hamas Islamists over their takeover of the Gaza Strip last month.

“I want to assure you that we will support you as legitimate leader of the Palestinian people,” Putin told Abbas at a press conference. “I am sure you will do everything to restore unity.”

Russia was alone among the Quartet of foreign powers mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in engaging with Hamas after it won legislative elections in the West Bank and Gaza last year. But a senior Russian official said that following the civil war in Gaza, Moscow was treating Hamas as a more peripheral P.A. entity than the new emergency government set up by Abbas.

“Recently we have somewhat downgraded the level of contacts with Hamas,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov told reporters, adding that Putin’s administration has no plans to meet with Hamas officials. “Now we are pursuing a pragmatic goal of trying to influence them directly and indirectly to resume national unity.”

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