Putin calls for Middle East tolerance

June 26, 2012 at 7:43 PM
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BETHLEHEM, Israel, June 26 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin called for tolerance between Israel and Palestine at the opening of a Russian cultural center Tuesday in Bethlehem.

"I am sure that any unilateral actions are counterproductive," Putin said at a news conference at the opening of the Russian Center of Science and Culture.

After meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Putin stressed the two leaders hold close views on nearly all key regional and global issues, RIA Novosti reported.

Abbas said the Palestinian Authority plans to enter peace negotiations with Israel at a conference in Moscow.

"We have confirmed to Mr. President [Putin] that the only path leading to peace in the region lies through negotiations with Israel," he said.

The Russian Center of Science and Culture -- built on land donated by the Palestinian Authority to the Russian Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society -- hosts a multimedia library, 350-seat theater, language classrooms, a dance and ballet studio, a shop, and a cafe, RIA Novosti reported.

"I see this as a deep continuity of centuries-long spiritual, human ties that connect Russia and the Holy Land and, of course, as a testimony of a special nature of the relationship between our peoples," Putin said.

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