After staying on the margins for several years, Russia has begun a fresh effort to regain lost ground in West Asia with the visit of its President, Vladimir Putin, to Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories.
At a press conference in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, Mr. Putin called for a West Asian peace conference in Moscow this autumn. Striking an assertive note, he also advocated a greater role for the U.N. in Iraq.
Later in the day, Mr. Putin was due to visit Israel where talks with the Israeli Prime Minister, &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/09/30/37457.html ' target=_blank>Ariel Sharon, have been slated for Thursday. Nearly a million Russian Jews have migrated to Israel, and now comprise nearly one-sixth of the country's population. Mr. Putin said the Foreign Ministers of the Quartet would meet in Moscow on May 8 to discuss the West Asia peace process.
Referring to &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/usa/2002/03/15/27007.html ' target=_blank>Iraq, both leaders proposed that the U.N. should play a more active role, informs the Hindi.
Putin made the proposal in Cairo before arriving on the first visit to Israel by a Kremlin leader. He made a midnight visit to Jerusalem's Western Wall, the most sacred site of Jewish prayer, the Kremlin said.
He went to the site after visiting a Russian Christian pilgrimage center that was due to be his last public stop for the day. A Kremlin spokesman said on the visit to the Western Wall Putin met a rabbi who gave him an album illustrating that part of Jerusalem.
Putin's proposal for a Moscow peace summit won backing from Palestinians but Israel was wary, saying it would oppose any effort to circumvent the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan.
"We should use shock therapy to sober up the Americans. In this case, the Americans will speak about the need to resume dialogue. There is no other option"
The United States is concerned about the current crisis in the relations with Russia and suggests returning to reasonable policies to avoid a nuclear war