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Russia plays up its international role – especially in Mideast peace

It chaired a special meeting Monday of the Security Council that endorsed the idea of holding a Middle East peace conference in Moscow this year.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to reporters during a news conference on Monday, at UN headquarters.

Mary Altaffer/AP

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Russia is moving to reassert its role in the Middle East – and in particular in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process – as President Obama prepares to receive principal leaders in the conflict at the White House in the coming weeks.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov chaired a special meeting Monday of the United Nations Security Council that endorsed the idea of holding a Middle East peace conference in Moscow this year. In a presidential statement, the Security Council also called on all parties to honor past international accords – a clear nudge to a wavering Israeli government to embrace the concept of a two-state solution, in which a new Palestine would exist next to Israel.

Also on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Egypt with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, declaring that Israel wants to renew negotiations with the Palestinians "in the coming weeks." But he again refrained from endorsing a two-state solution.

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