President Vladimir Putin: Yasser Arafat was not just the recognised leader of the Palestinian people but was also a great friend of Russia. Relations of close friendship and trust have developed between our country and the Palestinian people over the decades.
Today, when under your leadership, the Palestinian people, I think, have a real chance to find a solution to the problems they have faced for many decades now, we should all make an added serious and energetic effort to support you, Mr President, and support the peace process itself.
I bring you not only the Russian people’s best wishes but also those of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and those of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, with whom I had the pleasure of meeting yesterday. I am very pleased to have this opportunity to discuss with you the details of the situation as it is unfolding at the moment, pleased to have this chance to work together with you, Mr President, and with your colleagues, to look for the best way to move forward and also to look at what we can do in humanitarian terms to provide help today.
President of the Palestinian National Authority Mahmoud Abbas: Thank you, Mr Putin, for these warm words addressed to us. I want to say that your visit is a genuinely historic event as it is a visit by a friend, the head of a state that is our friend, a country with whom we have historically friendly relations.
We take this opportunity, Mr President, to congratulate you and the entire Russian people on the sixtieth anniversary of the victory over Nazism. This celebration is as dear to us as it is to you. The world was liberated from the evil of Nazism through your efforts.
We will be happy soon to discuss various problems of general interest with you, issues that also have an influence on the Palestinian people’s destiny. In this respect, I want to note that, as an authoritative player on the international stage and an active member of the Quartet of international mediators, Russia has always played and continues to play a prominent role in achieving a Middle East peace settlement.
Once again, I am pleased to express our warmest and most sincere feelings upon this occasion of your great visit. I welcome you, Mr President, and your accompanying delegation.