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Transcript of Remarks and Replies to Media Questions by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at Press Conference Following Talks with Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmad Aboul Geit, Moscow, October 19, 2005

2177-20-10-2005

Foreign Minister Lavrov: Esteemed colleagues,

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Geit and I have discussed a number of regional problems concerning the Middle East situation.

On the Palestinian-Israeli conflict we agree that after the withdrawal of Israel from Gaza and a part of the West Bank, which was a positive step, further steps must follow, directed towards implementing all the provisions of the Road Map in full. Both parties must fulfill their obligations under it. We spoke for the international community to help more actively the Palestinians reconstruct economic and social life within their territory and to equip Palestinian security forces so they can ensure law and order in their land and suppress every manifestation of terrorism and extremism. We emphasized the principled thesis, which has repeatedly been confirmed by the Quartet of mediators, about the necessity to avoid any unilateral steps which would prejudge final status issues. We agree that the peace process must retain the necessary dynamics and must be aimed at a comprehensive Middle East settlement. In this context we are grateful to the Egyptian side for the support affirmed by Foreign Minister Aboul Geit of our idea of convening in the foreseeable future a high-level international meeting of experts on Middle Eastern affairs in Moscow.

Egypt and Russia are keen on the earliest possible stabilization in Iraq. We believe the international community, primarily Iraq's neighbors, can make a substantial contribution to solving this task, can help arrange in Iraq a genuinely nationwide dialogue with a view to national reconciliation in Iraqi society and the further development of the political process on this basis. This is particularly important at this stage, when after the recent referendum on Iraq's constitution parliamentary elections are due there. It is important to so do that all the segments of Iraqi society, all the political, ethnic and religious groups can jointly prepare for these elections and secure for their groups a worthy representation in the Iraqi bodies of authority.

We are also keen on normalizing the situation around Lebanon and Syria as soon as possible and stand for an early, strict and impartial implementation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We shall await the release of the reports on the investigation of the killing of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and on how the UN Security Council decisions on the need to disarm the illegal armed units in Lebanon are being implemented. Russia as a Security Council member will be guided by the conclusions which will be contained in these reports; it will analyze these conclusions and the facts behind them, and will be ready to consider necessary steps within the means of the Security Council for solving the problems that still remain. We concur in the view that these steps must be such as to truly help resolve these problems, on the one hand, and to prevent a destabilization of the region, on the other.

We noted the beautiful character of our bilateral relations, the regular, intensive and frank political dialogue and the prospects for the building-up of trade-and-economic cooperation, in particular that in connection with an upcoming session next month of the bilateral Intergovernmental Commission.

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