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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Expected in Moscow, Russian Media Reports

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to visit Moscow, Russian news media quoted the Palestinian envoy to Moscow as saying late on Monday.

“We are awaiting an official statement from the Kremlin, from the Russian side, about when the visit will take place,” Russia’s RBC news outlet said, citing Palestine’s ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal.

“An agreement has been reached that Mr Abbas will come here to Moscow.”

Separately, Nofal told Russia’s state television that the two sides maintain “daily contacts.”

On Monday, Israel imposed a total blockade of the Gaza Strip after an unprecedented weekend attack by the Islamist group Hamas that has killed hundreds.

Russia, which has relationships with Arab countries, Iran and Hamas as well as with Israel, condemned violence against both sides and accused the United States of ignoring the need for an independent Palestinian state.

Russian President Vladimir Putin last met Abbas a year ago on the sidelines of a regional conference in Kazakhstan. Abbas last visited Russia two years ago, according to Russian media.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Abbas he was working to prevent “an expansion” of conflict after the surprise Hamas attack on Israel, Saudi state media reported.

Prince Mohammed also told Abbas the Gulf kingdom continued “to stand by the Palestinian people to achieve their legitimate rights to a decent life, achieve their hopes and aspirations, and achieve just and lasting peace,” the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The spiralling violence in Gaza kicked off amid speculation that Saudi Arabia, which has never recognised Israel, would agree to normalise ties as part of a deal in which it would obtain security guarantees from the United States as well as help developing a civilian nuclear programme.

However Prince Mohammed told Fox News last month that the Palestinian issue was “very important” for Saudi Arabia, home to the holiest sites in Islam in Mecca and Medina.

“We need to solve that part. We need to ease the life of the Palestinians,” Prince Mohammed said.

Analysts say any progress towards normalisation has now been dealt a heavy blow by the continuing fighting.

Prince Mohammed has also spoken to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah II about the crisis by phone, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Source : SCMP