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Tue Jun 26, 2012, 12:05 PM

Palestinians Hail ‘Great Guest’ Putin, Rename A Bethlehem Road In His Honor [View all]

Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a royal welcome on his first official visit to the Palestinian territories Tuesday.

Arriving in Bethlehem, Putin visited the Church of the Nativity and inaugurated a Russian cultural center. Palestinian media was jubilant at the visit, calling it “historic” and dubbing the Russian leader “the great guest of Palestine.” A main road in Bethlehem was even named “Putin” to commemorate the visit, the Palestinian news agency Maan reported.

Putin’s visit to the Palestinian territories comes at a particularly tense time in relations between Russia and the Arab world. Reports of Russian military support for the Syrian government crackdown are being highlighted in Arab media, and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States have been increasingly vocal during the past few weeks in condemning Russia. Worldwide demonstrations outside Russian embassies took place on June 13. Syrians have been burning the Russian flag in protest against Russia’s support for President Bashar Assad.

During their talks, Abbas asked his Russian counterpart to place pressure on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners and halt settlement building. Abbas told Palestinian media that direct negotiations with Israel are the only road to peace, and proposed holding an international peace summit in Moscow.



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