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Russia rushes to fill possible void left by Trump in Middle East

The Palestinian ambassador to Moscow tells Al-Monitor that Russia considers the Middle East its vital sphere of interest.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) meets with representatives of Palestinian political parties and movements in Moscow, Russia, January 16, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin - RTSVQN6

Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal told Al-Monitor that the Russians view the Middle East as vital to their interests, saying, "The Syrian conflict is finally moving toward resolution. Eleven Palestinian factions met in Moscow recently, and there are positive signs as far as Russia’s relations with the new Donald Trump administration." Nofal noted that all these activities are signs of the increased role of Moscow in the region. “It became clear during the Paris peace conference that the international community accepts [the fact] that Russia will have a bigger role to play in trying to resolve various conflicts. The Russians consider the Middle East as their vital sphere of interest,” the ambassador said by phone from Moscow.

Nofal said that the Russians hosted an inter-Palestinian meeting on Jan. 15 and Jan. 17 where important announcements were made. “Eleven Palestinian factions and not just Fatah and Hamas attended the meetings in Moscow,” he said. The meetings hosted by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov focused on Palestinian national unity and the needs to establish a Palestinian state in the areas occupied during the 1967 war.

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