Russia on Thursday rebuffed Israel over its criticism of President Dmitry Medvedev's meeting with the leader of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas this week.
Israel's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it was "deeply disappointed" that Medvedev met the group's exiled leader Khaled Meshaal during a visit to Syria this week.
Russia, the United States, European Union and the United Nations, make up a quartet of Middle East mediators.
"Hamas...is a movement supported by the trust and sympathy of a significant part of Palestinians," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement. "We have regular contacts with this movement."
"It is known that all other participants of the Middle East quartet are also in some sort of contact with Hamas leadership, although for some unknown reason they are shy to publicly admit it," Nesterenko said.
During the meeting with Meshaal, Medvedev called for the quick release of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip for nearly four years. Hamas later dismissed the Russian pressure and said Shalit would not be set free without an "honourable" prisoner exchange deal with Israel.
ReutersLast Mod: 14 Mayıs 2010, 08:39