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Middle East

Abbas and Putin silent on Syria during Ramallah visit

media Mahmoud Abbas with his counterpart Vladimir Putin after delivering joint … Reuters/Darren Whiteside

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas used his meeting with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin Tuesday to call for a peace conference with Israel to be held in Moscow. But the two leaders had nothing to say on the violence in neighbouring Syria.

In response to the request by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Putin convey the Israelis’ wish to resume negotiations, Abbas stated that the Palestinian Authority is also keen to talk but that a settlement freeze remains a condition for discussion.

The two leaders also discussed the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel and the potential reconciliation between Abbas’s party Fatah and Hamas, with Putin emphasising that Palestinian unity is required for a peace deal with Israel.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

But the situation in Syria was not discussed and, despite rumours that there would protests over Russia’s support for Syria, they never materialised.

Analysts say that there are concerns that questioning Assad’s policies would further endanger the lives of 500,000 Palestinians living within the country.

A total of 50 Palestinian refugees have been killed inside Syria, due to their precarious situation, and many support the Assad regime out of fear of being targeted.

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