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Russia calls on Hamas, Abbas' emergency government to seek 'wide-ranging dialogue'

Russia on Monday said it supported Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's move to form an emergency government, but called on Abbas and Islamic Hamas to seek a "wide-ranging dialogue" and avert the deepening crisis.

A day after Abbas' new Cabinet was sworn in, the Foreign Ministry said it hoped the Cabinet would "normalize" the situation and restore humanitarian aid supplies. The move followed Hamas' violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last week.

The ministry said Moscow expects that "the new emergency Cabinet of the Palestinian National Authority will take all necessary actions for the normalization of the situation, improving the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territories and most importantly, halting the inter-Palestinian conflict.

"This requires the establishment of a wide-ranging dialogue between all Palestinian political forces, including Hamas," the ministry said.

Russia, along with much of the international community has rallied behind the Abbas government, led by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, an internationally respected economist.

Moscow, which is seeking a greater role in the Middle East, is part of the so-called Quartet of Middle East negotiators that includes the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

Also Monday, the Interfax news agency reported that Russia would evacuate 120 nationals - mostly Russian women married to Palestinians - from the Gaza Strip.

The evacuation will begin when Israel reopens the Erez border crossing with Gaza, Russian envoy Alexei Pogodin was quoted as saying.

Russia's Ministry for Foreign Affairs is seriously concerned about the state of health of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Sergei Skrypal's niece, Victoria Skripal, said that her uncle had already died.

UK wants Sergei Skripal dead

The Basmanny Court of Moscow arrested Michael Calvey, the founder of Baring Vostok investment fund, on allegations of embezzling 2.5 billion rubles from Vostochny Bank. Calvey will be held in custody until April 13

Putin informed about arrest of US investor Michael Calvey
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