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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Sends Arafat Suppor

President Vladimir Putin has sent President Yasser Arafat a message reasserting Russian support for a separate Palestinian state and a peaceful resolution to the conflict in the Middle East, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

Putin's message comes a week after he met Arafat in Moscow and brokered a three-way telephone call between Arafat, the Kremlin and embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

"(Russia) has consistently backed and backs the fair resolution of the Palestinian problem, the fulfilment of the Palestinian people's rights including the right to self-determination and the creation of their own state," a Kremlin statement quoted Putin's note as saying.

The message was sent ahead of Wednesday's anniversary of the 1947 U.N. decision to divide Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The Kremlin called it the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

The letter also called for "an end to bloodshed, the normalisation of the situation and the resumption on this basis of a discussion process in the region."

Putin has sought in recent weeks to raise Russia's profile as a co-sponsor of the Middle East peace talks, after Moscow was left out of a key meeting in Egypt last month.

Analysts have said Arafat backs increased Russian involvement to counter-balance Washington's long-held pre-eminence as the major mediator in the region.

Barak on Tuesday pre-empted a vote in the Israeli parliament by saying he was ready to call an early election, after two months of violence cranked up the pressure on his coalition government.

At least 283 people, mainly Palestinians, have been killed in the clashes, and the Israeli army said more gun battles had erupted overnight in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.