World News

Moscow reaffirms Soviet recognition of Palestine

Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attend a welcoming ceremony upon his arrival in the West Bank city of Jericho January 18, 2011. REUTERS/Vladimir Rodionov/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

JERICHO, West Bank (Reuters) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday Moscow had recognized an independent Palestinian state in 1988 and was not changing that position adopted by the former Soviet Union.

But on his first visit to the Israeli-occupied West Bank as Russian head of state, Medvedev stopped short of making a ringing declaration of recognition of Palestinian statehood by the Russian Federation that he represents.

Israel has been alarmed in the past two months by a string of recognitions by Latin American states including Brazil and Argentina which some analysts say could be a precursor to a move by the Palestinians to seek full United Nations membership.

At a news conference with Medvedev in Jericho, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: “We remember that Russia was one of the first states in the world to recognize the state of Palestine in 1988.”

Medvedev responded, saying: “Russia made its choice a long time ago ...we supported and will support the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to an independent state with its capital in East Jerusalem.”

The Soviet Union recognized a Palestinian state in 1988, after it was declared by the late Yasser Arafat in a move that won broad support in the Communist bloc and Third World but had little real impact on diplomatic and political realities.

Writing by Douglas Hamilton, editing by Ralph Boulton