Russian President Vladimir Putin has called U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan "pretty vague" and called for direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
In Moscow on Sunday, Putin answered questions from Al Arabiya, Sky News Arabia and RT Arabic on Russian-Saudi relations, the conflicts in Syria and Libya and the attacks on Saudi Aramco that have been widely attributed to Iran, Russia's ally in Syria.
Putin was speaking in advance of his trip to Saudi Arabia on Monday.
When asked by Sky News Arabia about Russia's more passive role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Trump administration's "deal of the century" peace plan, Putin said Moscow "will support any deal that will bring peace" but must first understand the plan.
The United States "has been pretty vague about the details of the deal. Washington has kept in the dark the global and domestic public, the Middle East and Palestine," Putin said. "We believe it is important to ensure a two-state solution and establish the State of Palestine. We suggested hosting direct talks in Moscow between the Israeli prime minister and the head of the Palestinian Authority, but the meeting never took place, unfortunately."
Putin added that in the interim, Russia has held several meetings with Palestinian factions. "Restoring Palestinian unity would be a major contribution to the process," he said, adding that "speaking with different voices undermines the united Palestinian stance."
Russia-Israel relations, Putin noted, are very good, and he said Israelis are also interested in a long-term resolution to the conflict. "Almost 1.5 million Israelis come from the former Soviet Union. Israel is almost a Russian-speaking country," he said. "We do care about what is happening in Israel. However, we have a principled position on the Israeli-Palestinian settlement: We are fully committed to all the UN decisions and believe that they must be executed."
In June, the Trump administration revealed the economic section of the peace plan at a U.S.-sponsored conference in Bahrain that was attended by officials and high-profile businessmen from several Arab countries. The PA boycotted the event and in May, Palestinian Social Development Minister Ahmed Majdalani said that "any Palestinian who would take part would be nothing but a collaborator with the Americans and Israel."
The political segment of the plan is still to be released. The administration had said it would publish this section after Israel's September 17 election, and Israeli officials believed they would see it shortly after Election Day. Its publication was previously delayed due to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's failure to form a governing coalition following the April election, and the announcement of the do-over vote.
During Sunday's interview, an Al Arabiya journalist asked Putin about the September 14 strikes on a Saudi oil refinery that Saudi Arabia, the United States and other countries blame on Iran. "We condemn any such actions, end of story," Putin said, adding that he has spoken to the Saudi crown prince about the incident.
"I told him that I thought it necessary to collect evidence, to find the perpetrators behind that incident. Mohammed bin Salman agreed with me in principle, and asked me a question: 'Could Russia take part in the investigation?' I said yes, we are ready to share anything that might be necessary," Putin said. Last week, Putin said there was no evidence that Iran was behind the attack.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now