Russia to Help With Mideast Issues

Russia is ready to provide help in facilitating the Israeli-Palestenian peace settlement and bringing peace and stability to Iraq, President Vladimir Putin (search) said in a letter addressed to Arab League leaders who gathered for a summit on Tuesday.

Putin urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to continue peace talks in the framework of the 'road map' peace plan and said Russia was ready "to actively take part" in helping implement the agreements, together with other international mediators.

The plan envisions the creation of a Palestinian state, requires Israel to freeze settlement activity in the West Bank (search) and obliges Palestinians to dismantle militant groups.

Putin also praised the recent parliamentary elections in Iraq as "an important step in the development of the political process" and expressed hope that the government formed by the newly elected parliament would be supported by the majority of the Iraqi people.

Thirteen leaders of Arab countries met in Algiers (search), Algeria on Tuesday to discuss a broad range of Middle East issues.