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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 14:44 GMT
Abbas sees peace role for Russia
Mahmoud Abbas, (left) and Vladimir Putin
Mahmoud Abbas (left) was a student in Russia and speaks the language
The new Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia has a key role to play in the Middle East.

Mr Abbas, who met Mr Putin at the Kremlin on Monday, said there was now an "historic chance" for peace.

Mr Putin said Moscow was ready to co-operate actively with Mr Abbas in working to improve Palestinian-Israeli relations and bolster the economy.

Russia has been involved with the EU, the UN and the US in peace efforts.

"There is no doubt Russia's presence on our side, our co-operation on a bilateral basis, its role in the mediating quartet will be decisive in establishing peace in the Middle East," Mr Abbas said, according to Itar-Tass news agency.

Mr Abbas was elected as the new Palestinian president earlier this month.

His visit to Moscow is part of his drive to build international support for his efforts to re-invigorate the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinian leader knows Russia well - he was a student there and speaks the language.

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