Russia calls on Hamas to respond positively to international calls to recognize Israel |

Russia calls on Hamas to respond positively to international calls to recognize Israel

UNITED NATIONS – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who recently hosted talks with Hamas, called on the militant Palestinian group on Wednesday to respond positively to international calls to recognize Israel and start a dialogue with the Jewish state.Russia’s invitation to Hamas, extended by President Vladimir Putin, was the first crack in an international front against the group, which has sent dozens of suicide bombers to Israel. It provoked anger in Israel and surprise among the other members of the so-called Quartet of Mideast mediators which drafted a roadmap to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – the United States, the European Union and United Nations.Lavrov made clear after a meeting with Secretary-General Kofi Annan that Moscow supports the Quartet’s position on Hamas. The Quartet said on Jan. 30 it will withhold international recognition and review future aid to a Hamas government in light of the group’s renunciation of violence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to previous agreements signed by the Palestinians.Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Andrey Denisov said Moscow is going to follow-up the talks with Hamas by using every opportunity to remind the group of its statements at the end of the three-day meeting “which more or less can be understood as a readiness to carry on dialogue with Israel.”During the talks, he said, Russian officials told Hamas that “you are now part of a dialogue, whether you like it or not. Maybe you’re not ready to undertake any concrete steps right now and express some specific positions, but you have to think about it and the trend is there.”At the end of the meeting, Hamas’ political chief Khaled Mashaal, who lives in Syria, said the Moscow visit signaled that the group’s international isolation was coming to an end. But he ruled out any softening of Hamas’ hostility to Israel and refusal to recognize it.Lavrov told reporters that he and Annan discussed the Middle East “including the need to promote the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue and negotiations to revive the peace process, and the need for Hamas to respond positively to the Quartet position.”Denisov stressed the importance of a unified position by the Quartet and said Russia’s ambassadors in the Middle East “will try to use every chance” to remind Hamas that they have to take the Quartet’s demands seriously.”Whether we like it or not they are at power, and we have to deal with those who are legitimately elected by the people,” Denisov told The Associated Press. “If it is not about open and clear terrorist activity which is absolutely unacceptable, then their political stance can be modified.””We are just moving to the summit of the Arab League in the end of March. Hopefully – that is just my hope, nothing else – but hopefully their poisitions will be a little bit modified, at least to be closer to the official positions of the Arab community which is also a step forward,” Denisov said.Most Arab states have endorsed the Quartet’s goal of two independent states, Palestine and Israel, living side by side in peace.Vail, Colorado

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