From a Press Conference Following Talks with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika 2001-04-04 00:00:00 The Kremlin, Moscow Question: What additional measures will be taken to settle the Middle East situation? Vladimir Putin: First of all, I would like to subscribe to what Mr President has just said. I would like to add that our consultations on the Middle East settlement have been very productive and useful for the Russian side because Mr President is an undoubted expert on the issue. Russia is a co-sponsor of the Middle East settlement. We have recently been more active in the Middle East, and we are holding consultations to try to convince all the parties to the conflict that it is necessary to stop violence and solve all the problems at the negotiating table. We are trying to break this vicious circle when it is unclear what should be done first: starting negotiations or putting an end to violence. We believe no preconditions should be set. There must be an immediate end to violence. Russia is ready to continue intensifying its participation in the settlement, but only if the immediate parties to the conflict are interested in it. You have asked about possible additional efforts aimed at achieving a settlement in the Middle East. I think there is some untapped potential. It consists in bringing in all the countries in the region to take a more active part in the settlement of that complicated situation. In my opinion, efforts should be built up on the Lebanese and Syrian tracks. That is a comprehensive task affecting the interests of many countries in the region, and these interests must be taken into account. That is why we agreed with the Syrian President over the phone yesterday that the country’s Foreign Minister would arrive in Moscow for consultations shortly. And my colleague, our esteemed guest, the President of Algeria, has agreed with such an approach. It can be said to be a step in the right direction. Thank you.