Photo: Reuters
Putin promises aid to PA, continued support of Iran's nuke program
Photo: Reuters
Putin: 'I will send helicopters'
For first time since al-Aqsa Intifada, head of state visits PA; Russian president warmly welcomed in Ramallah, says he will help Abbas fight terror

RAMALLAH - Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a Ramallah press conference on Friday afternoon that his country was prepared to give the Palestinian Authority defense aid in the form of transport helicopters and training equipment.


"If we are waiting for Chairman Abbas to fight terror, it's clear that he cannot do it with his current resources,” Putin said. "We going to provide technical aid, equipment and trainers.  We are going to provide them with helcopters and communications equipment."


Putin also said that his country would continue to help Iran develop its nuclear program. 


Cheers in the PA


The Russian president was warmly welcomed in the Palestinian Authority, where he completed his Middle East diplomatic tour. The Palestinians put on an impressive ceremony replete with an honor guard, Russian flags and a band playing the Russian anthem. 


Before meeting PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Putin laid a wreath at the grave of Yasser Arafat at Ramallah's Muqata Compound.


International conference


Putin and Abbas met for an hour.  Afterward, the two held a joint press conference and Abbas brought the Russian president's idea of an international peace conference held in Moscow.


"We are committed to peace with our Israeli neighbors and we don't want to waste the opportunity for international involvement in the process," Abbas said. 


Abbas added that Putin's "was a historic visit symbolizing Russia’s commitment to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East on the basis of ending the Israeli occupation and the creation of an independent Palestinian state.”   


Abbas said that the PA was ready to negotiate a final status agreement and unilaterally fulfill its responsibilities according to the Road Map: “We’ll confront anyone who wants to hurt security.”


Putin said that Russia would also help the Palestinians rebuild Gaza infrastructure. 


The Russian president flies out Ben Gurion International Airport Friday afternoon.


First published: 04.29.05, 12:15
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