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Russia to host Annapolis follow-up

Russia said it will host the next international conference on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that after the Bush administration hosted this week’s conference between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Annapolis, Md., Moscow would handle the follow-up meeting.

The Russian news agency Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying that all participants at Annapolis “hailed our readiness to organize the next meeting in Moscow. Of course, we have yet to agree on its date and agenda.”

Lavrov said that Russia would try to promote Palestinian statehood and broker peace talks between Israel and its northern neighbors.

“This is crucial not only for the solution of all key problems in Palestinian-Israeli relations – I mean the border issue, refugees and the status of Jerusalem – but also for approaching other spheres of the Middle East settlement, the Arab-Israeli conflict. I mean the Syrian and Lebanese areas,” Lavrov said.

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