After Netanyahu, Abbas, Erdogan to Russia for Syria talks
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be in Moscow on Wednesday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the opening ceremony of one of Europe's largest mosques, AFP reported Tuesday.
The visits come amid Moscow's fresh diplomatic push to resolve the four-year Syrian war that has claimed more than 240,000 lives, with Middle Eastern leaders - including Jordanian King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi - flocking to the Russian capital in recent weeks.
The war in Syria is expected to be discussed by Erdogan and Putin during their meeting on Wednesday. Russia's increasing military presence in Syria and its support for Bashar al-Assad's regime in Damascus continue to stand as the major thorn in Turkish-Russian relations.
Erdogan will likely argue to Putin once again that the Assad regime is the main source of instability in the region and will underline that Russia and Iran's peace initiatives are unlikely to bring peace as long as Assad remains in power.
Abbas will also meet with Putin and other officials while in Russia, according to Palestinian embassy spokesman Ahmed Muslih.
Abbas last visited Moscow in April, when he and Putin discussed bilateral relations, as well as peace and security in the Middle East.
Putin on Monday held talks with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and discussed Russia's military support for the Damascus regime and "threats" facing Israel.
Moscow has come under increased international pressure to explain its recent moves in Syria, where the Kremlin has been supporting the Assad regime.
The leaders will attend the grand opening of Moscow’s Cathedral Mosque, which was built back in 1904, on the occasion of the Islamic Feast Eid al-Adha.
The mosque was controversially demolished in 2011. It has been under construction for four years. With a population of nearly 13 million, Moscow is now home to at least 1.5 million Muslims.
The mosque is now 20 times larger than the old mosque and will be able to hold ten thousand people.