'Russia is predominantly interested in an exchange of information and opinions concerning the situation in the Middle East and, in particular, Israel,' declared Russian President Vladimir Putin today at a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. According to the President's press office, he noted that Israel's role in the Israel-Syria-Libya triangle 'and, of course, the whole raft of questions concerning Iraq' were of great interest to Russia. Putin is also convinced that implementing UN Resolution 1435, which was passed on Russia's initiative, would create a firm base for the resolution of all the problems. 'W regard Israel as an important member of the anti-terrorist coalition,' said the Russian President.
Israel today lifted its blockade of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's residence in Ramallah. However, Israeli troops continue to control the area, which is a source of discontent for the Palestinian side.