Russia prepares for talks with Fatah, Hamas

MOSCOW, May 23, 2011 (AFP) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet Monday with members of the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas in a bid to extend Moscow's backing for their recent reconciliation accord.

The West Bank's Fatah and Gaza Strip's Hamas factions were among 11 signatories to a reconciliation agreement inked in Cairo on May 4.

Russia has voiced support for the agreement and also favours the creation of a single Palestinian state with pre-1967 borders -- an idea rejected by Israel but mooted by US President Barack Obama last week.

Lavrov held telephone talks Sunday with Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas, with the two men expressing "high appreciation" for Egypt's role in negotiating the accord, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Palestinian delegation in Moscow includes Fatah member Azzam al-Ahmed, Mussa Abu Marzuk of Hamas, and Maher al-Taher of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of the negotiators said.

Bassam Salhi, leader of the Palestinian People's Party, said the factions had held talks among themselves over the weekend about the formation of a unity government, without giving further details.

The new accord aims to put a stop to the animosity that has split the Palestinian territories into two camps since 2007 and pave the way for elections within a year.

The new government is not expected to include members of the factions but consist of technocrats who serve until elections.

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