Russian Foreignmin warns Israel

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has warned Israel from attempts to remove Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat from the settlement process in the Middle East. "Such attempts will hardly change the situation for the better," Mr Ivanov said as meeting his Israeli counterpart, Silvan Shalom.

The Russian minister deemed it necessary to break the vicious circle of violence, which may thwart the roadmap settlement plan, Aleksandr Yakovenko, an official Russian foreign ministry spokesman, has told reporters.

"Russia's firm position is that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict cannot be resolved militarily," emphasised Mr Ivanov. He said the two countries had to take reciprocal steps against terrorism and towards the resumption of the peace process.

Mr Ivanov said Russia was resolved to promote the resolution of the current crisis in close cooperation with the other co-sponsors of the Mideastern settlement effort, i.e. the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

Mr Shalom reaffirmed his invitation to the Russian foreign minister to pay a working visit to Israel.

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