MOSCOW, November 20. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed plans to visit Israel in mid-January at a meeting with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, who arrived in Moscow to receive the Patriarch Alexy II Award.
Putin also expressed his determination to cooperate with the Russian Orthodox Church and local churches in efforts to protect the interests of Christians in the Middle East.
"I understand that Christians in the Middle East - the cradle of Christianity - are in a difficult situation," Putin pointed out. "We need to pool our efforts to protect their interests. Any split will do much harm to the Christian world, including Christians in the Middle East," he added.
"We certainly should do it together with other confessions and - in relation to the Middle East - with our brothers and sisters among the followers of Islam," the Russian president noted. "We maintain close contact with them and work together rather effectively to achieve our common goal to protect traditional values," he said.
Cooperation with Israel
Putin emphasized that he would visit Israel in mid-January "in connection with the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the unveiling of a new monument dedicated to the sacrifices that our country’s peoples made during World War II, particularly to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad."
"I believe that cooperation with Israel is quite important," the Russian president noted. "Thank God, we have rather good relations with the Israeli authorities and the Russian Jewish community that serves as kind of a bridge between the two countries," he added.
Addressing Patriarch Theophilos III of Jerusalem, Putin pointed to "especially good relations between our churches, which is beneficial to global Orthodoxy and efforts to strengthen ties between believers in our countries.".