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Syria, bilateral ties to be top on agenda of Putin-Netanyahu talks, says Kremlin

Israeli Prime Minister’s visit to Russia will be the first one after the downing of a Russian aircraft off Syria

MOSCOW, February 26. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet on Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the situation in the region, including in Syria, as well as bilateral relations, the Kremlin website said on Tuesday.

It said the sides "plan to discuss key issues of bilateral cooperation, first of all on the trade-economic and humanitarian trajectories, as well as to exchange opinions on the current situation in the Middle East, including Palestinian-Israeli settlement and the situation in Syria," the report said.

Earlier, the Israeli prime minister said he also wanted to discuss with Putin Iran’s activity in Syria, as well as the strengthening of the mechanism for coordination between the military of Russia and Israel in order to maintain stability and avert unwanted tensions in the region.

Netanyahu’s visit to Russia will be the first one after the downing of a Russian aircraft off Syria. On September 17, 2018 Russia’s Il-20 aircraft was accidently downed by Syrian air defenses over the Mediterranean Sea when it was returning to the Hmeymim airbase.

Russian top brass said a missile from Syria’s S-200 system downed the aircraft when it targeted four Israeli F-16 fighter jets, which attacked facilities in Latakia. All 15 Russian crew members were killed in the tragedy. The Israeli Air Force and those who made the decision to use the Il-20 aircraft as cover are solely to blame for its crash, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said then.

On November 11, 2018, Putin and Netanyahu held a brief meeting in Paris. A few days later, the Russian president said at a press conference in Singapore that they had discussed the Il-20 incident.