Russia to supply Abbas with armoured vehicles

21/03/2008 - 21:44

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - After months of delay, Russia agreed to Israeli conditions regarding the delivery of armoured vehicles to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's security forces, Israeli officials said on Friday.

Israel agreed in November to allow the Palestinians toreceive up to 50 lightly armoured vehicles but a disputeemerged over a Palestinian demand that they have guns mountedon them.

Israeli officials said Russian Foreign Minister SergeiLavrov told Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during a meetingon Thursday that Russia agreed to shipping the vehicles withoutmounted guns.

It was unclear when the vehicles would be delivered toAbbas's forces.

"We have been hearing about these armed vehicles for morethan a year," said a Palestinian security official. "Hopefullywe will be able to receive the shipment."

Russian foreign ministry officials were not immediatelyavailable to comment.

Israel had agreed to an initial delivery of 25 armouredtrucks and said an additional 25 could be authorised if Abbas'sforces make progress exerting greater security control in theIsraeli-occupied West Bank.

The vehicles were offered to the Palestinians by Russiaseveral years ago but the transfer was put on hold after theHamas Islamist group won elections in January 2006.

(Additional reporting by Haitham Tamimi)

(Writing by Ari Rabinovitch; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

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