(RIA Novosti) - All Middle East nations, including Iran and Syria, must be involved in regional peace talks rather than isolated from the process, Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday.
Russia has long insisted that all Middle East countries be engaged in resolving the situation in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, reports Trend.
"The region's problems must be addressed through the involvement of all nations in the region, rather than through isolation," Sergei Lavrov told a news conference. "Isolating somebody in the region, be it a country or a political force, is a major obstacle on the way to peace."
A U.S. bipartisan panel led by former Secretary of State James Baker, a Republican, and former Democratic Representative Lee Hamilton recommended in its final report December 6 that the United States begin planning to withdraw its troops from Iraq and open a direct dialogue with Syria and Iran over Iraq and the Middle East.
In an apparent reference to the U.S., the Russian minister also said the peace process in the region was being hampered by "excessive concentration on stereotypes and an unwillingness to take the first step forward and abandon public rhetoric."
Both Russia and the U.S. along with the EU and the UN are members of the Quartet of mediators in the Middle East peace process.
"It is very important that extremist forces do not play the pivotal role," Lavrov said. "Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority have sensible people and sober-minded politicians."
Russia has been the only country to recognize and maintain ties with the government of the radical Islamic group Hamas, which came to power in the Palestinian Authority in January.
Lavrov said Moscow found it important that a meeting be arranged between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, and called for creating the necessary conditions.
"Given that problems are accumulating and there is no solution in sight, the sides should agree to hold a meeting without any preliminary conditions, and we will give them all our support," Lavrov said.
Lavrov said in mid-November that the Quartet should meet again as soon as possible, and that talks should ideally include Israel and Palestine, as well as other regional states.
Delegations from the Quartet met in the Russian Embassy in Cairo November 16 for the first time since Hamas came to power in the Palestinian National Authority and discussed ways of resuming the Israel-Palestine peace process.