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Palestinian, Russian Leaders Meet On Black Sea --> Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in Sochi on May 15 (official site) May 15, 2006 -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas met with Russian President Vladimir Putin today for talks on aid to the Palestinians and ways to revive Palestinian-Israeli contacts.

Putin, hosting Abbas in the Russian resort of Sochi, told him he hopes Russia can help the Palestinian Authority overcome problems it currently faces.

"You know that Russia has always been a dependable and consistent friend to the Palestinian people," Putin said. "I'm very glad to have an opportunity to discuss with you those urgent problems that you are confronted with and that we could help you resolve."

Abbas thanked Russia for its political support, as well as recent financial aid.

Russia is a member of the international Quartet of Middle East mediators, and Putin has recently sought to boost Russia's role in Middle East peacemaking.

Russia has backed calls for Hamas to recognize Israel and halt violence, but has declined to support moves by the United States and European Union to internationally isolate the Hamas government.

(Interfax, ITAR-TASS)