Ariel Sharon says Israel seeks peace

Israel is ready to meet halfway with Palestine to bring about peace in the region, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said at a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Mikhail Kasyanov, in Moscow Tuesday.

Israel is a peace-loving country and is ready make major concessions for the sake of peace, very sensitive concessions, said Mr Sharon. However, there is one thing Israel will never agree to compromise on. It is Israeli residents' and national security, said Mr Sharon.

The Israeli premier said he had updated the Russian and US presidents, the European leaders and the Indian government on that position of his country.

He then said Israel would eagerly accept Russia's assistance proceeding from the above principles. Israel is ready to make far-reaching steps to bring about lasting peace and tranquillity that would promote economic growth in the region, said the premier.

Mr Kasyanov, for his part, recalled that Russia had never failed to contribute to the settlement effort in the Middle East. "I want to assure that Russia is set to take further measures to help the parties find solutions that will ensure stability and peace in the region," said the Russian premier.

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