House to Vote Wednesday on Repealing Democrats’ Health Care Law

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH)

Washington, Jan 19 (KATAKAMI.COM / CNS News / AP) – The new Republican-led House is poised to deliver an emphatic thumbs-down to President Barack Obama’s landmark health care overhaul, with no ready substitute of its own.

The House vote Wednesday could turn out to be the high-water mark for repeal, a goal that energized conservative voters in the midterm elections and helped Republicans return to power in Congress. Democrats, who hung on to the Senate, have vowed to block the GOP drive.

But House Republicans say not to underestimate their determination or their willingness to use parliamentary maneuvers to deny the Obama administration funds needed to carry out the law.

“Our vote to repeal is not merely symbolic,” said freshman Rep. Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y., an ophthalmologist. “It respects the will of the American people. And it paves the way to reform our health care.”

The initial round of debate Tuesday was free of the rancor seen during the marathon sessions that culminated in party-line passage of the historic legislation last year. The law would provide coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people, with tax credits to make premiums more affordable for the middle class, along with an expanded Medicaid program for the poor. Starting in 2014, most Americans would be required to carry health insurance, a first-of-its-kind mandate that Republicans are challenging as unconstitutional in federal court.

Democrats are confident that the law will stand. Millions are already getting its benefits, from lower prescription prices for Medicare recipients with high drug costs to extended coverage for young adults on their parents’ insurance plan.

Republicans are “re-litigating, regurgitating and rearguing” a debate that was settled last year, said Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J. Repeal is “the wrong bill at the wrong time,” he added.

After Wednesday’s vote, it’s unclear what will ultimately happen. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., dared Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to prove that he can keep Democrats united in support of the health care law by bringing repeal to the floor.

“He should bring it up for a vote if he’s so confident he’s got the votes,” Cantor told reporters.

Opponents of the law would probably need 60 Senate votes to overturn it, which is a big stretch given that Republicans have just 47 votes.

The House is scheduled to vote Thursday to instruct several major committees to draft health care legislation that reflects Republican priorities, including limits on medical malpractice awards and stricter language barring taxpayer funding for abortions. But an earlier GOP bill that offered a competing vision to the Democrats’ only covered a fraction of the people reached by Obama’s law.

No matter, Republicans say. A modest, step-by-step approach may turn out to be more sustainable in the long run than a major new government program whose costs and consequences are still unclear.

The fate of the repeal effort hinges on the quality of the replacement legislation and the care that Republicans put into drafting it, said Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., a freshman. If it meets the needs and concerns of the public, Gibson said he believes Democrats in the Senate may be persuaded to give it serious consideration.

Easier said than done, Democrats respond. For example, Republicans say they also want to help people with pre-existing medical conditions find affordable coverage. But many experts say that won’t be possible unless there’s some kind of requirement that healthy people get into the insurance pool as well, thereby helping to keep premiums down.

“They’re going to have to deal with that,” said Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat.

Polls find the public divided over the law and whether it should be repealed. A recent Associated Press-GfK survey found a 43 percent plurality wants the law changed so that it does more to re-engineer the health care system. About one in four said it should be repealed completely. Fewer than one in five in the AP poll said the law should be left as it is and 10 percent want to change it to do less.

Some surveys that only give respondents two options – keeping the law as it is or repealing it completely – find an edge for repeal.  (*)

Merkel says Germany will do what's needed for euro

German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses moments after delivering her New Year's television address to the nation at the Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt) on December 30, 2010 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Henning Schacht-Pool/Getty Images)

BERLIN, Jan 19 ( KATAKAMI.COM / THE ECONOMIC TIMES) —Germany will continue to do what is necessary to guarantee the stability of the euro, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in an interview with Stern magazine released on Wednesday ahead of publication on Thursday.

Merkel told the weekly magazine there would be “no return to the deutsche mark” and said Germany is commited to the euro “and will continue to do what is necessary to guarantee a stable euro.”

Merkel said she was in favour of improving coordination of euro zone nations. “What’s at stake is more common policies on taxes and social issues, on labour laws and wage developements in the public sector. We’ve got to coordinate…to dismantle the at times considerable discrepancies.”  (*)

Medvedev to hold talks with King of Jordan Wed

Photo File : Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) chats with Jordan's King Abdullah II on August 24, 2008 in Sochi, during a meeting to discuss bilateral relations and Middle East developments, including efforts to achieve peace and security in the region. (Photo by VLADIMIR RODIONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

AMMAN, January 19 (KATAKAMI.COM / Itar-Tass) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has arrived in Jordan on the second part of his Middle East tour.

On Tuesday, Medvedev visited Palestinian lands and had negotiations with Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Jericho on the West Bank. Later in the day the leaders opened a Russian museum in Jericho and toured a park near the biblical Fig Tree.

Dmitry Medvedev made the following entry in his Twitter blog, expressing his impressions of the tour of the Palestinian lands: “People in Palestine like Russia. It was gratifying to see the sincere emotions being expressed by folk in the streets of ancient Jericho.”

On Wednesday the President of Russia is to hold talks with his old acquaintance King Abdullah II of Jordan and visit the site of the Baptism of Christ.

An official ceremony to welcome Medvedev is to be held in the main square of the Jordanian capital. According to the Protocol, the national anthems of the two countires are to be played; the two leaders are to hear a report by the commander of the guard of honour. Following that, talks in narrow and broader formats are to be held.

“Our relations are notable for activeness and a high level of trust,” a Russian presidential administration official has told Itar-Tass. “There have been nine visits by Abdullah II to Russia since 2001. In February 2007, the then Russian President Vladimir Putin paid an official visit to Jordan”. “As regards the developments in the Caucasus, Jordan officially took up a neutral attitude which was regarded by the West as a pro-Russian one,” the official said.” “In August 2008, the King sent planeload of humanitarian aid supplies to Vladikavkaz for the South Ossetian population,” presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko recalled.

Dmitry Medvedev and King Abdullah II are also to discuss the construction of a nuclear power station in Jordan by Russian specialists, Prikhodko said.

“We evinced such an interest and said we are ready to cooperate,” Prikhodko remarked. “However, this is not a matter of tomorrow or one or two years,” he added.

“Apart from Russia, applications were also filed by the Korean, French, and Canadian sides,” the presidential aide recalled. Jordan “must make a desicion about a site, and we must decide on a credit,” he said.

“In the estimates of the Jordanian side, the first nuclear power unit is to come into operation in 2018,” Prikhodko said.

Medvedevl’s aide recallled that in 2009 Russia and Jordan had signed an agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy. “It is now a matter of technology and finance. Russia will state its position at the (upcoming) talks. However, the situation depends chiefly on the Jordanian side,” Prikhodko said.

After the talks the Russian President will visit the historico-religious estate “The Site of the Baptism of Christ”. Over there Medvedev will tour a hospice which is being built on the river Jordan by the Russian side. More than 200,000 pilgrims and tourists visited the site last year. The RF Directorate for the Management of Presidential Property set a task of completing the construction and equipment of the compound in March 2011.

“The implementation of this unique project is of great importance: for the first time in history the Russian state has received a plot of land in this area and is erecting its own compound of buildings which will play host to pilgrims from Russia,” Prikhodko pointed out.

Indonesian taxman gets 7 years in jail

GAYUS TAMBUNAN

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Jan 19 (KATAKAMI.COM / AP)  – The man at the center of Indonesia’s most closely watched corruption scandal has been sentenced to seven years in jail for pocketing millions of dollars from big companies to help them avoid paying taxes.

Gayus Tambunan’s case has made headlines and dominated social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook for months.

That’s because, in addition to embezzling at least $2.7 million, a relatively small sum in a nation considered one of the world’s most graft-ridden, the web of involvement allegedly extended to senior police, immigration officials and judges.

Judge Albertine Hoe of the South Jakarta District Court said Tambunan was guilty of corruption.

She sentenced him to seven years behind bars and fined him $30,000 dollars. (*)

Indonesian Courth Delivers Sentence in High-Profile Bribery Case

Gayus Tambunan

Jan 19 (KATAKAMI.COM / VOA) —- An Indonesian court handed a seven-year sentence Wednesday to the defendant in a bribery case that has fascinated the country while raising questions about the government’s ability to deal with widespread corruption.

The sentence was given to Gayus Tambunan, a low-level tax official who was convicted of accepting millions of dollars in bribes for helping wealthy companies and individuals to avoid paying taxes. Despite his meager salary, Tambunan was living in a lavish mansion at the time of his arrest and had more than $3 million in bank accounts.

The long-running case included an earlier acquittal in which Tambunan was found to have bribed the judge, and reports that he appeared in disguise at a tennis tournament while supposedly still in jail. Tambunan testified at his trial that he was just a “small fish” in a corruption network that involved senior police, immigration officials and judges.

The case has helped to undermine the popularity of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who won re-election in April 2009 on a promise to clean up corruption.

Mr. Yudhoyono issued a decree on Monday ordering officials to investigate all aspects of the case. (*)

Chinese president attends private dinner hosted by Obama

WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 (KATAKAMI.COM / Xinhua) — Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao attended a private dinner hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House Tuesday night.

In a friendly atmosphere both heads of state exchanged views on Sino-U.S. relations and international and regional issues of common concern.

President Obama extended a warm welcome to President Hu, who is on a state visit to the United States. Both leaders positively assessed the progress in bilateral relations, and hoped that the visit will further promote a positive, cooperative and comprehensive Sino-U.S. relationship.

Hu said he had come to the United States to strengthen mutual understanding and trust between the two peoples, boost bilateral exchanges and cooperation and enhance effective coordination between the two countries on major international and regional issues. Above all, he said he had come to open a new phase in the development of Sino-U.S. relations.

Hu, who arrived here Tuesday for a four-day state visit, will have a formal meeting with Obama on Wednesday.  (*)

Mahmoud Abbas urges Quartet to put pressure on Israel

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas greets Russian President Dmitry Medvedev after his visit the Jericho Museum in the West Bank Oasis town of Jericho on January 18, 2011. (Photo by ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Jan 19 (KATAKAMI.COM / Jpost) — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday urged the Quartet members, who are scheduled to meet in Munich next month, to issue decisions that would oblige Israel to return to the negotiating table with the Palestinians.

Abbas, who was speaking during a joint press conference in Jericho with visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, said there were only two options: Negotiations or violence and terrorism.

“We won’t choose violence and terrorism,” he declared. “Therefore, we tell the Israelis that they must choose the path of peace for their own interest and for the interests of their generations.”

Medvedev was originally scheduled to come first to Israel before going to the PA, but his trip to Israel was canceled because of the Foreign Ministry workers’ sanctions. A senior ministry official said that once the work sanctions ended, Jerusalem would contact Moscow to try and reschedule a visit to Israel.

Abbas reiterated his demand for a full cessation of settlement construction so as to pave the way for the resumption of the peace talks and the implementation of the road map for peace, the Arab peace initiative and UN resolutions.

He hailed the Russians for their longtime support for the Palestinians, noting that he had once headed the Palestinian- Russian Friendship Association.

Abbas said he had briefed Medvedev on the ongoing construction in the settlements and Israeli measures in east Jerusalem that, he claimed, were designed to change the city’s character, identity and history.

The two men also discussed the impasse in the peace talks and the possibility that Russia, as a member of the Quartet, would play an active role in the peace process, Abbas said. The Quartet, which is made up of the US, EU, Russia and UN, is scheduled to meet next on February 5 in Munich.

Abbas also praised Latin American countries that had recently recognized a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders.
Medvedev said at the press conference that the Russian position toward the issue of recognizing a Palestinian state hadn’t changed.
He pointed out that the Soviet Union had recognized the PLO declaration of statehood in 1988.

“The Russian position hasn’t changed, as I’ve told the president,” he said. “Russia has made its choice long ago, at the end of the ’80s. We supported and will support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to create its own state, which is independent, territorially integral and with a capital in east Jerusalem.”

Israeli officials pointed out that the Russian president stepped back from explicitly calling for a state along the 1967 lines, a recognition the Palestinians are seeking. The officials said that Foreign Ministry officials were in touch with the Russian delegation before it went to Jericho to ensure there would be no change in the Russian position.

Israeli government officials said they regretted that the PA was investing so much energy in trying to get “meaningless declarations” from various countries around the world.

“In 1988, Yasser Arafat declared an independent state and more than 100 counties recognized it,” one official said. “The question is whether that changed anything for the Palestinians, did it change anything in the West Bank? It changed nothing.”

The official said the Palestinian leadership needed to chose between “the path of empty rhetoric and meaningless declarations” and “direct engagement with Israel.” Only through negotiations with Israel “can realities be changed,” the official said.

National Security Adviser Uzi Arad was in Moscow last week and President Shimon Peres is scheduled to meet with Medvedev later this month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Medvedev said he discussed with Abbas ways of reviving the peace talks with Israel. He called on both parties to exercise self-restraint and avoid unilateral actions. He also called for a halt of Israeli construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

He said all parties would benefit from the creation of a Palestinian state, especially Israelis and Palestinians. “This is what we have to work to achieve,” Medvedev said.

He also expressed readiness to host a peace conference in Moscow and warned that the current stalemate would have a negative impact on the situation in the Middle East.

Medvedev and Abbas inaugurated the Russian Museum in Jericho. Abbas described the project as a “symbol of Russian civilization in Palestine.”

Medvedev said that the existence of the museum in the Palestinian territories was a symbol of Russian presence in the Holy Land and the strong ties between Palestinians and Russians.  (*)

PM Benjamin Netanyahu to attend AIPAC conference in DC this May

PHOTO FILE : Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu smiles as he takes the stage to address the gala banquet of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual policy conference in Washington March 22, 2010. Declaring "Jerusalem is not a settlement," Netanyahu struck a defiant note on Monday after new U.S. criticism of Jewish home construction in disputed territory in and around the city. His speech in Washington to AIPAC, an influential pro-Israel lobby group, contrasted sharply with an address U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made at the same forum hours earlier. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Prime minister will be making his second straight in-person appearance at the Washington policy conference.


Photostream : Bibi Netanyahu in Washington

WASHINGTON, Jan 19 (KATAKAMI.COM / JPost) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will attend this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in May, his office confirmed on Tuesday.

Netanyahu conveyed his acceptance of the annual invitation to the Israeli premier during a meeting he had with the organization in Israel on Monday, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

He will be making his second straight in-person appearance at the AIPAC policy conference, set to take place in Washington from May 22 through 24.

Though prime ministers traditionally address the gathering, it is often arranged by satellite link from Jerusalem, as occurred during the first policy conference after Netanyahu entered office in 2009.

His visit at last year’s conference, which was held in March, took place upon a backdrop of tension between the United States and Israel. It came soon after US Vice President Joe Biden made a trip to Israel himself where he was greeted by the advancement of plans for additional housing in the Ramat Shlomo area of east Jerusalem, sparking one of the most serious crises between the two countries in years.

When Netanyahu came for the 2010 AIPAC conference, he was granted a last-minute meeting with US President Barack Obama that was shrouded under a media blackout.

The resulting tensions weren’t fully lifted until Netanyahu’s visit to the White House in July, held in front of cameras and full of sentiments of mutual regard.

Since then, direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians finally began, only to grind to a halt when Israel’s temporary freeze on settlements – imposed under pressure from the United States – ended in late September and the Palestinians refused to continue talks without a renewal of the freeze.

The prime minister held extensive consultations with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on a deal to extend the freeze during his most recent trip to the US trip this November, which took him to New York but not Washington, but the deal ultimately fell through.

The US is now scrambling to find another formula for restarting talks, and how forthcoming Netanyahu is perceived to be by the Americans between now and then will factor into how he is received by Obama come May. (*)

Giffords's husband says she recognizes him

U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and her husband, space shuttle astronaut Mark Kelly, are seen in an undated handout photo provided by her Congressional campaign, January 8, 2011. Giffords was hit in a shooting on Saturday at a public event of the Congresswoman's at a Tucson, Arizona grocery store that also injured at least nine other people, hospital and law enforcement sources said. REUTERS/Giffords for Congress/PK Weis/Handout

Jan 19 (KATAKAMI.COM / Reuters) – Congressman Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, says he is certain his wife recognizes him and is making her awareness of his bedside presence known more than a week after she was shot through the head.

While doctors at University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona, said over the weekend that Giffords remained mostly incommunicative, Kelly said his spouse is connecting with him through small, but distinct gestures.

“If I hold her hand, she’ll play with my wedding ring,” Kelly, a NASA space shuttle commander, told ABC News in his first television interview since his wife was gravely wounded in a shooting rampage on January 8.

“She’ll move (the ring) up and down my finger. She’ll take it off. … She’ll put it on her own finger. She’ll move it to her thumb. And then she can put it back on my finger,” he said.

Kelly’s full interview was set to air on Tuesday night on a special edition of the prime-time program “20/20.” ABC News released excerpts in advance. Portions also aired on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “World News with Diane Sawyer” and “Nightline” broadcasts.

“The reason why I know that that means she recognizes me is because she’s done that before,” Kelly said. “She’ll do that if we’re sitting in a restaurant. She’ll do the same exact movements.”

Kelly told Sawyer in his interview that Giffords, 40, even managed to give him a 10-minute neck rub, “and I keep telling her, ‘Gabby, you’re in the ICU. You know, you don’t need to be going this.'”

He added with a chuckle, “I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t do that to somebody else. And she’s looking me in the eye.”

Kelly’s anecdotes seemed at odds with the level of function described over the weekend by doctors, who said they had seen little sign of Giffords interacting despite upgrading her overall medical condition from critical to serious following removal of a breathing tube that ran through her mouth and down her throat.

That ventilator hose was replaced on Saturday with a tracheotomy tube inserted through her neck and into her windpipe but still leaves her unable to speak.

“She cannot socialize,” Dr. Randall S. Friese, associate medical director of the hospital, told reporters on Monday.

Still, doctors said they were extremely pleased with Giffords’ progress and that the next key milestone she faced would be her discharge from the hospital, marking her graduation from recovery to rehabilitation.

Giffords, a Democrat just elected to her third term representing Tucson and southern Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives, was one of 19 people struck by gunfire at a meet-and-greet with constituents.

Six people were killed and 13 others wounded, Giffords being the most seriously hurt. A 22-year-old college dropout, Jared Lee Loughner, is in federal custody charged as the lone gunman in the attack.

Kelly acknowledged that his wife still has a difficult road ahead of her but called her a “really, really tough woman.”

He also told Sawyer that he had worried for his wife’s safety in the past and that they had discussed death threats she had received prior to the shooting.

Photostream : Chinese President Hu Jintao Arrives in US for State Visit

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden (R) and Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) stand at the end of the red carpet during an arrival ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base January 18, 2011 at Camp Springs, Maryland. Chinese President Hu is on a state visit to the United States. He will be welcomed with a state arrival ceremony and have official meetings with the Obama Administration at the White House tomorrow. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Chinese President Hu Jintao talks with Vice President Joe Biden during an arrival ceremony,Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

China's President Hu Jintao receives flowers upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington for a state visit, January 18, 2011. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is at rear. REUTERS/Jason Reed

China's President Hu Jintao greets members of the United States government alongside Vice President Joe Biden (R) upon his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington for a state visit, January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Reed

China's President Hu Jintao and and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (R) listen to national anthems upon Hu's arrival at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington for a state visit, January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Israeli Prime Minister Gives Posts to Labor Party Defectors

PHOTO FILE : Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, leave the West Wing after a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington Tuesday, March 23, 2010. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(KATAKAMI.COM / VOA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is giving four cabinet posts to former Labor party politicians who resigned from the party Monday under the lead of Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
News reports say Mr. Netanyahu awarded the posts Tuesday, following negotiations with Barak.  Under the agreement, Barak will remain the defense minister.

On Monday, Barak and four other Labor politicians announced their departure from the party.  Barak said he would form a new parliamentary faction called Atzmaut (Independence) that would be part of the governing coalition.

With the split, Labor has eight members who remain in parliament.

Recently, there have been sharp divisions within the Labor Party regarding its role in the government’s failure to advance peace talks with the Palestinians.  (*)

Major 7.2 earthquake hits SW Pakistan

A powerful earthquake hit southwest Pakistan on Wednesday, geologists said, but there were no immediate reports of casualties. (AFP/File/Nicolas Asfouri)

 

 

ISLAMABAD, Jan 19 (KATAKAMI / AP)  – A major 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked a remote area of southwestern Pakistan early Wednesday, shaking many parts of the country and causing tremors as far away as India and the United Arab Emirates.

The quake was centered in Baluchistan province, the country’s most sparsely populated area, said the United States Geological Service, occurring at 1:30 a.m. local time at a depth of some 50 miles (84 kilometers.

Its epicenter was in a remote area some 200 miles (320 kilometers) southwest of the Baluchistan capital of Quetta, said chief Pakistani meteorologist Arif Mahmood, not far from the Afghan border.

The closest town to the epicenter was Dalbandin, with a population around 15,000 people, and is so remote that the nearby Chagai hills were the site of Pakistan’s 1998 nuclear tests.

There was no word on damage in Dalbandin. But another town close to the epicenter, Karan, suffered no major damage, said Fateh Bangar, Karan’s deputy commissioner. The town was some 45 miles (70 kilometers) from the epicenter, he said.

Nasir Baluch, a police officer in Karan, said several mud houses collapsed or were damaged in an area outside the town called Mashkil. There was no immediate word on casualties, but the area is sparsely populated, he said.

There was no major damage in Quetta either, but the quake caused widespread panic in the city, said residents.

Local TV reports said the quake was felt throughout several other provinces as well. Many residents in the country’s largest city, Karachi, ran out into the streets once the quake started, said the reports.

Karachi resident Mohammad Zubair said he was watching a cricket match on TV when his bed began to shake.

“I jumped out of bed realizing it was an earthquake,” said the 28-year-old. “My mom started reciting verses from the Quran, and we rushed outside.”

Tremors lasting at least 20 seconds were also felt as far away as Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and in India’s capital, New Delhi.

Earthquakes often rattle the region. A magnitude 7.6 quake on Oct. 8, 2005, killed about 80,000 people in northwestern Pakistan and Kashmir and left more than 3 million homeless. (*)

President Dmitry Medvedev Visits Palestine

Official welcome ceremony. President Dmitry Medvedev with President of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas.

Jan 18 (KATAKAMI.COM / KREMLIN.RU) — Talks between the President of Russia and President of Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas took place in Jericho. The main issue discussed during the meeting was Middle East settlement.

At the news conference following the talks, Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia supports the right of the Palestinian people to establish their own territorially unified and indivisible state, adding that the potential of international and regional organisations should be used more actively to move the process forward.

The Russian President confirmed his intention to host an international conference on the Middle East in Moscow. Mr Medvedev said that the international legal framework needed to achieve tangible results in addressing the Middle East conflict is already in place. The prospects for the conference will become clear following the upcoming meeting of the Middle East Quartet in Munich.

A number of joint documents were signed following the Russian-Palestinian talks. (*)

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