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Russia proposes Security Council mission to the Middle East

Russia has proposed to the UN Security Council to undertake its first mission to the Middle East after over three decades.



United Nations: Russia has proposed to the
UN Security Council to undertake its first mission to the Middle East after over three decades, in the face of the
stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the ongoing crisis
in Egypt.

"The efforts to restart the Israeli-Palestinian
talks are at an impasse and the situation in the region is
quite fragile and fraught with further possible
complications," Russia`s envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin told
reporters.

"So we think that a mission of the Security Council
could help on both tracks. Could help to stabilise the
situation in a certain way and help the international efforts
to restart the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations," he said.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon today also acknowledged that the
Middle East process was stuck.

"I am also concerned by the very slow process, almost
an impasse now of the Middle East peace process," he said.

The Quartet -- the United States, United Nations,
European Union and Russia, met in Munich on Feb 5 to discuss
the Middle East peace process.

In the meeting, the group reiterated its call for
concluding these negotiations by September 2011.

Israel`s refusal to extend a 10-month moratorium
on settlement activity, last September, led to Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas refusing to enter direct talks with
the Israeli side, which had started after a two-year lull.

Israel`s refusal was also seen as a snub to the Obama
administration, which has appealed to the Israeli authorities
several times that it would jeopardise the peace talks.

But in the last few weeks, the US has indicated that
it won`t support a Security Council resolution condemning
Israeli settlements.

Churkin said that Russians had been thinking about the
Security Council`s visit to the Middle East since Christmas
and they had also spoken about it with the Council members
involved in the Middle East peace process.

After getting a generally positive feedback from
the Council members, Russia was going to initiate
"consultation" on where and when to go.

The Russian envoy ticked off Gaza, West Bank, Damascus
and Lebanon as potential areas for the Council`s mission,
which would be its first since 1979, as well as Cairo, where
he said, the Security Council could also have a meeting with
the Arab League.

Churkin described the trip as an "important venue
of activity in the immediate future."

Last year, the Security Council visited Sudan.

PTI

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