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Russia to donate food, medicine, vehicles for Gaza restoration


SHARM EL-SHEIKH, March 2 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will donate food, medication, armored vehicles and civilian helicopters to the Palestinian National Authority to help rebuild the Gaza Strip, Russia's foreign minister said on Monday.

Delegates, representing some 85 countries and international organizations, gathered on Monday in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh for a conference on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip following a three-week offensive by Israeli in January which saw some 1,300 Palestinians killed and 5,000 injured.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said the impoverished enclave will need some $2.8 billion in aid for reconstruction projects.

According to an official statement from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev delivered by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the conference, "large quantities of flour will be delivered in the near future for Palestinian needs through the UN World Food Program" and two additional Russian cargo planes will deliver medication and other humanitarian aid.

The official statement also said that "50 armored vehicles and 2 civilian helicopters would be given to the PNA."

Prime Minister Lavrov said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas must "give assurances of the effectiveness of using international aid to rebuild the Gaza Strip as an integral part of the future of the Palestinian government."

The conference is being attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as well as another 45 foreign ministers from other countries.

A meeting of members of the Middle East peace Quartet - the EU, Russia, the UN and the U.S. - will also discuss progress on a Palestinian-Israel peace settlement on the sidelines of the donor conference.

Earlier on Sunday Persian Gulf states pledged some $1.64 billion in aid for Gaza during a meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a trade block comprising Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman.

In a statement delivered to the conference participants, the Russian president also said that Russia was prepared to train Palestinian specialists; noting that 150 students, from the enclave of 1.5 million, attend Russian higher education institutes annually and some 100 Palestinian law enforcement workers were also receiving training.

The presidential statement also said that Russia, "being one of the co-sponsors of the conference, supports the objectives of those countries and organizations which have gathered in Sharm el-Sheikh to help the Palestinians rebuild the Gaza Strip."

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