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Russia: Yeltsin Celebrates Christmas In Bethlehem

Jerusalem, 6 January 2000 (RFE/RL) - Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin has arrived in the Holy Land on a trip to mark the first Orthodox Christmas of the new millennium with the leaders of other predominantly Orthodox countries. Yeltsin and the presidents of Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine, Greece and Romania are due to join high-ranking Church leaders for festivities which will culminate with a mass in Bethlehem tomorrow, the Orthodox Christmas according to the Julian calendar. Yeltsin, who announced his resignation on December 31, arrived in Jerusalem yesterday. He is being accorded all the honors of a serving head of state during his three-day visit. Yeltsin is due to hold talks with Israeli President Ezer Weizman and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is among the members of Yeltsin's 130-person entourage.