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Israel: Russia vows not to harm our security

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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Sunday not to take any step that would harm Israel's security following controversial talks with Hamas last week, Israel said.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said Putin called to update Olmert on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's talks with Hamas, which has carried out numerous terrorist attacks in Israel and won the Palestinian legislative elections.

Putin "emphasized several times that Russia would not take any step directed against Israeli interests and would not harm Israel's security," Putin's office said on its Web site.

Israel had criticized Russia for meeting with Hamas before the militant group renounces its calls for Israel's destruction and promises to end terrorist attacks. The United States and the European Union, like Israel, consider Hamas a terrorist organization.

Putin told Olmert that Russia presented the demands of the Middle East Quartet -- the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations -- which include the acceptance of Israel's right to exist and an end to terrorism, Olmert's office said.

Olmert, in turn, reasserted Israel's position not to negotiate "a terrorist organization such as Hamas," and that "it was a mistake (for Russia) to meet the Hamas leaders before the organization committed itself" to the Quartet's principles laid out in the Road Map to Middle East peace.

Olmert warned that "Russia's contacts with Hamas would only encourage the organization not to make the changes that the international community is demanding of it in order for it to become a partner for dialogue," Olmert's office said.

The two men also discussed concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions, "and agreed to be in continuous contact in order to deal with regional challenges," Olmert's office said.

Russia has broken with the United States by saying it does not believe Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons. But Moscow has taken steps to try to resolve the crisis, which could come to a showdown in the U.N. Security Council.

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