The Russian foreign ministry's special envoy Andrey Vdovin continues his tour about the Middle East. He told RIA Novosti about his recent meetings with Israeli and Palestinian top officials, held in close coordination with representatives of the American co-sponsor and other foreign mediators. These contacts following the seizure by Israeli frontier guards of a weapons-filled vessel in the Red Sea and recent clashes in the south of the Gaza sector were aimed at preventing the conflict from aggravating ever further. As Andrey Vdovin talked to the head of the Palestinian national administration, Yasser Arafat, the latter assured him that he would do his utmost for the investigation into the vessel-detainment incident and for making its results public. In the opinion of Andrey Vdovin, positive dynamics should be ensured to implement the Tenet plan and the Mitchell commission's proposals. As the meetings proceeded, all foreign intermediaries urged the Palestinians to step up efforts to fight terrorism. Hopes were also uttered that the Israelis would take additional measures to relieve conditions for the population in the Palestinian autonomy and thus would largely add to the success of that fight.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea
President Vladimir Putin has not released an official statement yet about his position on the issue of the pension reform in Russia