( Itar-Tass ) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov arrived in the United States to participate in the conference on the Middle East settlement in Annapolis.
Lavrov heads the Russian delegation at the conference, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mikhail Kamynin told Itar-Tass on Sunday. "During the forum several bilateral meetings are planned," the diplomat added. The Russian foreign minister is expected to meet with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Monday.
On Tuesday, November 27, the Russian minister is expected to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to discuss missile defence.
Then Sergei Lavrov will participate in an international mediating Quartet meeting. After the Quartet meeting Lavrov will go to Annapolis, where the Middle East conference will open at 19.00 Moscow time. Representatives of 49 countries and international organisations will participate in the conference.
Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov earlier noted it is important that "the forum in Annapolis gave way for direct talks between Palestine and Israel." "This is vital for the Middle East peace process. However, it is necessary at the next meetings to open the dialogue between other parties to the Arab-Israeli conflict, particularly Israel, Lebanon and Syria to make this process comprehensive," Saltanov told Itar-Tass.