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Putin to call Israeli, Arab leaders as Gaza fears grow

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Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to call Israeli and Arab leaders on Monday, his adviser said, amid Russian fears Israel’s Gaza offensive could trigger wider conflict in the region.

Russia has repeatedly called for talks on ending the conflict, which has strained relations with long-time partner Israel and complicated ties with Iran, which backs militant group Hamas.

“The president has already spoken to the president of Syria and the president of Iran,” Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

“During the day there will be more phone calls with the presidents of Egypt — Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Palestine — Mahmud Abbas, as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Ushakov said.

Fears for Palestinians trapped in the heavily bombarded Gaza enclave have grown since Israel prepared to launch a ground offensive aimed at killing Hamas leaders.

Israel declared war on the Palestinian Islamist group a day after waves of its fighters broke through Gaza’s heavily militarised border and killed over 1,400 people, most of them civilians.

Hamas backer Iran has warned that an invasion of Gaza would be met with a response, prompting fears of a wider conflict that could draw in other countries.

Moscow, which has for almost 20 months been battling its own offensive in Ukraine, has repeatedly called for a ceasefire and offered itself as a mediator.

 

AFP

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