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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 17:29 GMT
Hamas wins Moscow embargo pledge
James Rodgers
BBC News, Moscow

Meshaal Lavrov
Khaled Meshaal found support with Sergei Lavrov
Russia says it will work to lift sanctions which western governments imposed on the Palestinian Authority after Hamas won elections last year.

The announcement came as Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal was visiting Moscow.

Russia risked the wrath of the United States and Israel when it decided to hold talks with Hamas.

This is the second time in less than a year that the group has been invited to Moscow, and Russia is unrepentant.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed the recent proposals to form a Palestinian government of national unity.

Hamas unmoved on Israel

Mr Meshaal thanked Russia for its support and advice.

But neither he nor Mr Lavrov gave any details of what actual steps Russia might take to lift the economic blockade.

Russia, the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union have demanded that Hamas renounce violence and recognise Israel.

Russia feels those aims can best be achieved by dialogue. Hamas's message remains blunt.

Mr Meshaal said that Israel must end its occupation of Palestinian territory. Only then, he said, would the Palestinians define their position.

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