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Putin discusses Mideast with Trump, hosts Abbas

By AFP - Feb 12,2018 - Last updated at Feb 12,2018

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday at the start of talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that he had discussed the Middle East conflict with his US counterpart Donald Trump.

“I just spoke with American President Trump,” Putin told Abbas before continuing the talks behind closed doors. “Obviously we spoke about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The Palestinian leader was visiting Moscow in a bid to secure Putin’s support after Trump outraged the Palestinians and their allies by recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The “situation is far from what we want to see,” Putin told his guest, adding that he has “always supported the Palestinian people”.

“It is very important for us to know your personal opinion in order to set the record straight and put in place a common approach to solve this problem,” Putin said.

Abbas has refused any contact with Trump’s administration since Washington’s decision at the end of last year.

“Given the atmosphere created by the United States’ actions, we... refuse any cooperation with the United States as a mediator,” said Abbas.

“In case of an international meeting, we ask that the United States be not the only mediator, but just one of the mediators.”

Abbas’ meeting with Putin came two weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also visited Moscow.

Netanyahu on Monday said he had been in talks with Washington about annexing settlements in the occupied West Bank, a move condemned by a top Palestinian official as “land theft”.

The White House denied Netanyahu’s claims in a rare public show of disunity.

Palestinians see the US decision on Jerusalem, which broke with years of international diplomacy, as a denial of their claim to East Jerusalem as the capital of an eventual Palestinian state.

Abbas, who is due to speak at the United Nations Security Council on February 20, has promised his people to work towards full recognition of a Palestinian state by the UN.

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