2013-03-15 16:47:00

Talks are sole way to resolve Syrian crisis - Palestinian leader

Moscow, March 15, Interfax - Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said at a meeting with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on Friday that he shares the patriarch's concerns over the conflict in Syria.

"I share your concerns over the processes happening in Arab countries, primarily in Syria," Abbas said.

The situation in Syria has worsened in the past two years, he said.

"As far as the Syrian crisis is concerned, we see no alternative to a peaceful solution that would allow all representatives of the Syrian people to sit down at the negotiating table and find an option that would suit all sections of society," Abbas said.

"What we see in Syria today is a ruined country," he added.

Patriarch Kirill's visit to Bethlehem in November 2012 "brought so much joy to the Muslim and Christian population of the Palestinian Territories," he said.

Abbas thanked the patriarch and the Russian leadership for their support of an upgraded UN status for the Palestinian Authority.

Citizens of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus account for the overwhelming majority of pilgrims who visit the Holy Land, Abbas said, expressing hope that their number would grow further.

"We do not view Christians as a minority. On the contrary, we regard them as one of the foundations of our state," Abbas said.