Road Map must be fully implemented

In regards to a settlement in the Middle East, Russia believes that all aspects of the road map peace plan need to be implemented, Alexander Yakovenko, the spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said at a RIA Novosti press conference.

Mr. Yakovenko said that the Israeli Prime Minister's initiative to unilaterally define Palestine's border required serious analysis.

"We positively regard the references to the road map, the necessity to combat terrorism, and Israel's intention to leave the Gaza Strip, that were voiced in the course of the meeting of U.S. President George Bush and Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon," Yakovenko said.

According to him, implementation of every aspect of the road map plan, as approved by the UN Security Council, was necessary for a settlement in the Middle East.

He said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Nabil Shaath, the foreign minister of the Palestinian National Authority, would discuss this issue at a meeting in Moscow.

"This initiative will also be discussed during the course of the meeting of the four international mediators [the UN, Russia, the U.S. and the EU] who, as we hope, will meet soon at a regular meeting," Mr. Yakovenko said.

He said that a statement by Osama bin Laden, an international terrorist, was an attempt to split the antiterrorist coalition.

"Such formulation of the question - that Bin Laden will take vengeance on the U.S. but is ready to conclude a truce with the European countries - is an attempt to split the antiterrorist coalition that Russia is also an active member of," Mr. Yakovenko said.

On Thursday Al-Arabiya, a satellite television network based in the UAE, broadcast a tape-recorded speech by Mr. Bin Laden, the leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network. He ruled out a possibility of a truce with the U.S. but offered peace to Europe.

Mr. Bin Laden said that al-Qaeda "will discontinue its operations against the countries that do not participate in attacks on Muslims." "As far as the well-known audio tape with a voice ascribed to Bin Laden is concerned, it is hard to say now if this tape is authentic or if it is faked," Mr. Yakovenko said.

Having touched upon the problem of security of the Russian specialists in Iraq, Mr. Yakovenko said it would be difficult for the Russian authorities to ensure their security.

"They work in different points, in different places, in different cities. It is impossible to ensure their full security," Mr. Yakovenko said.

According to him, the local authorities cannot do so either.

"At such a difficult time, it is better not to take chances and to wait until the situation becomes stabilized," the diplomat noted.

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