Russia’s diplomatic services have been ordered to prepare Russian president Vladimir Putin’s visit to Egypt, well informed sources in the Kremlin say. A high-ranking official does not rule out Mr. Putin’s attending Israeli-Palestinian summit in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Ekho Moskvy radio reports. It means that, Russian leadership seeks to raise its status in the Middle East, and in this context Russia’s foreign minister Igor Ivanov does not seem to rise equal to his mission. It is not his fault, but rather a specific layout of political forces in the region. UN Secretary Kofi Annan, US President Clinton, big shots from Israel, Palestine, Egypt as well as minor bosses from NATO and EU are expected to attend. Unlike US State Sectretary Mrs. Allbright, Mr. Ivanov falls out of the top ten in Kremlin’s hierarchy, and he would feel uncomfortable in such an entourage. Here, a charming Putin’s turning up would be just what the doctor ordered.

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