Beginning of a Meeting with Head of the Palestinian National Administration Mahmoud Abbas 2005-01-31 19:11:41 Moscow, Kremlin President Putin: Mr President, Dear friends and colleagues, Allow me once again to wish you a warm welcome to Russia, to the capital of our country, Moscow. Mr President, you are very well known in Russia. It is very pleasing for us that the people of Palestine decisively expressed their support for you, and we see this as a very good sign – a sign of continuity of policy, which has come into the hands of a person who is not only well known in our country, but who is supported by the Palestinian people, and who has fought for many years for Palestine’s interests. You know what a great friend of our country your predecessor, friend and colleague Yasser Arafat was. And of course, this man will go down in the history of the Palestinian people and international relations. Life goes on. In both the region and in Palestine there are many problems that have been awaiting a solution for decades now. We very much hope that you, Mr President, will be able to make decisive steps to improve both the situation with Israel, and the economic situation of Palestine. On our part, we are prepared, as before, to work actively together with you and your colleagues, and with the international community, to solve all these problems. Welcome! Mahmoud Abbas: Thank you, Mr President. I am happy to be in Moscow. It is a great honour for me to meet with you. As you have already said, we are known in Moscow. We and our peoples are linked with long-standing historical, traditionally friendly relations. The Palestinian people feel gratitude and deep respect for the role that the Russian Federation and the Russian people have played and continue to play. We also feel profound gratitude for the aid given to the Palestinian people at different levels and in different areas. At this time, Mr President, we see that there are historical chances to achieve peace in the region. So undoubtedly, the presence of Russia on our side, the support and help that it gives us on a bilateral level and within the “quartet” of international intermediaries, will have a decisive role to achieve universal and lasting peace in the Middle East. We are well aware of the Russian Federation’s position in supporting peace in the Middle East, and the role that it played in developing and confirming the “road map” of peaceful regulation. This is why we can say with certainty that there are serious and extremely important chances to begin high-quality work, above all in ensuring conditions of security and stability, and then to move to a solution to socio-economic problems faced by our people, so that we can “build” our independent nation.