Abbas congratulates Putin, Russia affirms support


MOSCOW (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas sent a message of congratulations to Russian President Vladmir Putin, as delegates met over cooperation between the countries Tuesday.

Putin secured almost 64 percent of the votes in his country’s presidential contest on Sunday, but international monitors said the vote was clearly skewed in his favor.

A Palestinian delegation, headed by PLO official Nabil Shaath, is in Russia for a meeting of the joint Palestinian-Russian Committee, and met with Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday.

Lavrov said after the meeting that Russia is determined to support Palestinians’ inalienable right to self-determination, and an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital.

The officials agreed to continue political and diplomatic efforts at the United Nations to end Israel’s occupation and continued settlement building, diplomats said.

Delegates briefed Russian officials on the current stalemate in peace talks, warning that Israel’s stated keenness to talk “are only misleading attempts in order to avoid commitment to international resolutions on the issues of borders, refugees and other major issues.”

Political, economic and cultural cooperation between the two countries was discussed at the summit, attendees said.

The delegation delivered a message from Abbas, which “congratulates the elected Russian president and expresses confidence in the strengthening of Russia’s position and role on the international stage.”

Vote monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said the election was skewed toward Putin through massive media coverage and the use of state resources.

After three months of peaceful anti-Putin protests, police hauled away more than 500 people, including opposition leaders, who attended unsanctioned rallies in Moscow and St Petersburg on Monday.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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