Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s opening remarks at talks with Advisor to the Palestinian President on Foreign Affairs and International Relations Nabil Shaath, Moscow, December 19, 2017
Welcome to Moscow. We have met regularly, Mr Shaath, in your various positions. You have always made every effort to serve your people, and we really appreciate it.
In the regular Russian-Palestinian dialogue as well as in our contacts with the Israelis, the members of the Quartet of international mediators, and the countries of the Middle East, we have always advocated the need for an early start of direct talks to reach generally acceptable solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the corresponding UN decisions.
At this stage, we are certainly concerned about the situation around Jerusalem. Our position on this issue has been repeatedly stated publicly by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, confirmed during his telephone conversation with President of Palestine Mahmoud Abbas, and once again emphasised and reiterated in our speeches yesterday in the UN Security Council.
We will continue to do all we need to do to put the process back on a constructive course, which would facilitate the beginning of negotiations, so that no one would make unilateral moves that could influence the final settlement.
We also consider it very important to achieve a tangible result in those Egypt mediated contacts that began between Fatah and Hamas, because in our estimation, Palestinian reconciliation, the restoration of Palestinian unity, is one of the key factors contributing to the success of the talks.
We also very much appreciate your contribution to the development of bilateral cooperation between Russia and Palestine. Bilateral trade is modest, but it is growing fast enough, and will be further accelerated by the next meeting of the Russian-Palestinian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation, which is scheduled for early 2018 in Palestine.
We also thank you for supporting our efforts to restore the Russian presence in the Holy Land. We appreciate the ever-growing attention to the Russian language in Palestine. I am confident that this interest will be promoted by the activities of the school opened with Russia’s assistance in Bethlehem this year, as well as the multifunctional sports and culture centre Russia will build in Bethlehem.
We will certainly continue to provide humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, and support relevant projects through the UN.
I will be glad to hear your thoughts on all these issues.