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Putin, Netanyahu to discuss Syria, Middle East, bilateral issues

The talks will be held at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin Alexey Nikolsky/TASS
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin
© Alexey Nikolsky/TASS

MOSCOW, January 29. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Moscow on Monday. Netanyahu will pay a brief working visit to Russia, the Kremlin press service reported.

"The two leaders plan to discuss issues related to boosting Russian-Israeli cooperation in trade, economy, cultural and humanitarian spheres along with pressing international and regional issues, including the Middle East problem and the situation in Syria," the press service said.

The talks will be held at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center where Putin and Netanyahu will take part in events on the occasion of International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust and an anniversary of Leningrad’s full liberation from Nazi siege. The issue at hand is in particular the opening of the exhibition titled "Sobibor: Those Who Defeated Death," dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the only successful prisoners’ uprising at the Sobibor concentration camp.

Israeli agenda

The Israeli prime minister said at a meeting of the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday that he planned to discuss at Monday’s talks in Moscow "the developments in the Middle East," efforts to strengthen coordination between the two countries’ armed forces on Syria and some other issues that are "important for Israel’s security."

Israel insists that it does not support any of the parties to the conflict in Syria and does not take part in the talks focusing on a settlement in that country. However, according to foreign media, Israeli aircraft regularly carry out raids inside Syria’s territory, including the ones against transferring advanced weapons to Lebanon’s Hezbollah Shiite group. To protect the two countries’ militaries from accidental clashes on Syrian soil, in the fall of 2015 Israel and Russia established a deconfliction mechanism, with a special coordination center set up at the Israeli General Staff for the purpose.

According to the Haaretz newspaper, the Israeli prime minister also plans to discuss in Moscow the Iranian nuclear deal and clarify his country’s stance regarding the inadmissibility of permanent presence of the Iranian armed forces in Syria. On January 25, Netanyahu discussed these issues with US President Donald Trump at a meting held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. That was the first meeting between the Israeli premier and the US president after Trump announced the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocation of the US Embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to that city on December 6, 2017. Moscow voiced concern over this decision, as it could damage the prospects for the Middle East peace process.

Two leaders’ intense contacts

The Russian president and Israeli prime minister last met in Sochi on August 23, 2017. Commenting on the results of the talks, Netanyahu said on the same day that every meeting with Putin benefits Israel’s security. Prior to that, the two leaders held talks in Moscow on March 10, 2017, and on June 7, 2016, when the Israeli prime minister paid a visit to the Russian capital timed to the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries. During his tenure as Israel’s Prime Miinister in 1996-1999 and since 2009 to the present time, Netanyahu visited Russia 12 times.

The two leaders had a telephone conversation on January 1, 2018, discussing, in particular, their upcoming meeting.

The Kremlin earlier confirmed preparations are also underway for a visit by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to Moscow without specifying the exact dates. On January 11, Palestinian Ambassador to Russia Abdel Hafiz Nofal said that Putin and Abbas would hold a meeting in the Russian capital on February 12.