Russia welcomes Hamas-Fatah pact
Russia welcomes the reconciliation deal signed in Cairo by the rival Palestinian movements Fatah and Hamas, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"Moscow welcomes the signing of this agreement, which resulted from efforts of various sides, especially Egypt," the foreign ministry said in the statement posted on its website late Wednesday.
Russia is a member of what is known as the Middle East Quartet that also includes the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations.
The statement said Moscow encouraged all efforts to reconcile the two Palestinian movements, calling the deal signed Wednesday an important first step.
"It is our conviction that we must ensure that the process of overcoming the internal Palestinian split becomes irreversible," the foreign ministry said.
The process should conclude with "free, transparent and democratic elections," it added.
The unity pact has been strongly opposed by Israeli leaders. Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to urge European leaders in Paris on Thursday not to back the deal.
Israel views Hamas, which now controls the Gaza Strip, as a terrorist organisation and refuses to hold any peace talks that include the group.
© 2011 AFP