Close contacts with Israel important for Russia: Putin

Moscow, April 22 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said it is important to maintain close contacts with Israel amid the unstable situation in the Middle East.

Putin met with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday. A statement from the Kremlin said Putin and Netanyahu exchanged views on key issues on bilateral cooperation, particularly in the field of security, as well as urgent regional and global issues including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and the Syrian crisis.

Netanyahu’s visit came days after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Russia.

The Russian president said when meeting with Netanyahu that there are reasons for maintaining close contacts with Israel “taking into consideration the uneasy situation in the region.”

Netanyahu said he came to Russia “with one particular main purpose: to strengthen the coordination between us in the field of security, in order to prevent all sorts of mistakes and misunderstandings.”

The Israeli prime minister said his country was doing everything in its power to prevent the transfer of “super modern weapons” from Syria and Iraq to the Hezbollah militant organization in Lebanon.

He also insisted that “the Golan Heights (territories in northern Israel the country occupied from Syria in the 1967 War) will remain part of the sovereign territory of Israel with or without an agreement.”

Netanyahu also vowed to prevent the appearance of “another terrorist front” directed against Israel in the Golan Heights.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said during a briefing earlier that Russia maintained its position on the Golan Heights based on a United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution, which stipulated inadmissibility of the acquisition of a territory by war and the necessity to find a solution terminating its occupation through talks.

On Monday, Putin discussed the Middle East peace process at a meeting with Abbas.

He voiced Russia’s support for Palestinian efforts “aimed at the activation of all means that are necessary to establish a constructive dialogue,” while Abbas urged the international community to define the principles on which the Middle East settlement could be reached and formulate a timetable for negotiations.

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