On meeting with Bennett, Putin says he aims to maintain warm ties forged under Netanyahu – .

On meeting with Bennett, Putin says he aims to maintain warm ties forged under Netanyahu – .

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin met in Sochi on Friday morning for their first face-to-face talks since Bennett took office earlier this year.

Putin told Bennett that the couple had “many problematic issues” to discuss, but also many “points of contact and opportunities for cooperation, especially when it comes to fighting terrorism.”

The Russian president also told Bennett – who became prime minister in June, ousting Benjamin Netanyahu after 12 years – that he hopes and expects Israeli-Russian relations to continue smoothly.

“I really hope that despite the internal political battles, which are inevitable in every country, your government will pursue a policy of continuity in Russian-Israeli relations,” Putin said, stressing his close ties with the previous Israeli government.

In his own comments, Bennett noted that the couple will “discuss the situation in Syria as well as efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program.” The Prime Minister added that the talks between the nations “will be based on the deep bond between the two countries. We consider you to be a true friend of the Jewish people.

Bennett told Putin that he expects “to discuss with you a whole range of current issues, to strengthen ties between countries in the economic, technological, scientific and cultural fields.” The prime minister also briefed the Russian president on efforts to build a museum in Israel commemorating Jewish soldiers who fought in various armies during World War II, including the Russian Red Army.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, October 22, 2021 (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Bennett left Israel for Russia at 5 a.m. Friday morning, landed about three hours later and will spend around five hours in the country before returning to Israel before the start of Shabbat at sunset. His talks with Putin are expected to focus on Iran and Syria, and he is accompanied by national security adviser Eyal Hulata, diplomatic adviser Shimrit Meir and military secretary to the prime minister, Major General Avi Gil. Mother-Russian Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin also accompanied the Prime Minister to provide translation and advice.

“The ties between Russia and Israel are an important part of the foreign policy of the State of Israel because of both Russia’s special status in the region and its international role, and the million Russian speakers in Israel , which form a bridge between the two countries, ”Bennett said on the tarmac before leaving on Friday morning. “In general, Israel’s foreign policy and international status are strengthening considerably. There is considerable energy and the management is very good.

Putin and Bennett spoke two weeks ago when Bennett congratulated Putin on his 69th birthday.

“The two will discuss a range of diplomatic, security and economic issues involving the two countries, as well as important regional issues, primarily Iran’s nuclear program,” the prime minister’s office said when announcing the visit. several days ago. His spokesperson said the trip was made at Putin’s invitation.

Netanyahu boasted of having close ties with Putin, which he said created space for Israel to conduct a multi-year air campaign against Iranian-backed fighters in Syria. This campaign continued under Bennett, although recent reports have pointed to tensions in Israeli-Russian relations over the policy towards Syria.

According to a report released earlier this week, Netanyahu promised Putin that he would “return soon” to power after his ouster in June. Netanyahu, who has repeatedly tried to delegitimize Bennett and his new government, has long argued that only his personal connections with Putin prevent Israel from facing Russia in Syria, where their two armies operate.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow on January 30, 2020 (Maxim Shemetov / Pool / AFP)

Russia is also a member of the P5 + 1 group of countries that negotiated the Iran nuclear deal, talks about returning the United States to the dying pact may be expected to resume shortly, officials say.

Israel lobbied against resuming the deal and pushed for a concerted international effort to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, whose political base is largely Russian-speaking from the former Soviet Union, said on Thursday that a military clash with Iran was “only a matter of time.” .

Another item on the agenda is expected to be Israel’s recognition of the Russian Sputnik COVID vaccine among incoming tourists. Israel on Thursday announced that vaccinated tourists will be allowed into Israel from November 1, but only those with vaccines approved by the World Health Organization, which does not include the Sputnik vaccine.

Bennett’s visit follows a trip by Foreign Minister Yair Lapid to Moscow last month, where he met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. The Walla news site later reported that during this meeting, Lavrov called on Israel to push the United States to agree to hold trilateral talks on the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Israel carried out hundreds of airstrikes inside Syria during the country’s civil war, targeting what it says are suspected arms deliveries to the Iranian-backed Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, which fighting alongside Syrian government forces. Israel rarely recognizes or discusses such operations.


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