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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Barak ""Happy"" For Putin to Visit Mideast

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday he would welcome a visit by President Vladimir Putin to the Middle East, saying both Russia and the United States could help resolve the current crisis.

"President Putin is a serious politician who has a deep understanding of Middle East issues, and we will be very happy if President Putin visits the Middle East," he said on Russia's state-run ORT television.

The Kremlin and foreign ministry were not available to comment on any plans by the Russian leader to visit the region, although the Middle East News Agency last month quoted Egypt's ambassador to Moscow as saying Putin could visit in the spring.

Israel and the Palestinians have urged Russia to take a more active role in the search for peace, after playing second fiddle to the United States for years.

At least 306 Palestinians, 43 Israelis and 13 Arab Israelis have been killed in more than three months of a Palestinian uprising against occupation.

U.S. President Bill Clinton, who leaves office Jan. 20, has devised a peace plan for the region which includes Israeli withdrawal from most of the West Bank and Gaza and Palestinian renunciation of the right of refugees to return to homes in Israel.

Israel has accepted the blueprint as a basis for talks. Palestinian negotiators have rejected it as too pro-Israel.