Putin in Israel for dedication, meetings

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Russian President Vladimir Putin in meetings with Israeli leaders discussed Iran, Syria and the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.

Putin on Monday also attended the dedication of a memorial in the coastal town of Netanya to the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said following his meeting with Putin that “We agree that Iran’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is a grave threat first and foremost to Israel, but also to the region and to the world.” He also said that “a way to end the killing and the terrible suffering of the citizens of Syria must be found, and peace, security and regional stability must be pursued as far as is possible during these turbulent times.”

Russia, a longtime ally of Syria, has backed the government of Bashar Assad against international action to halt the violent crackdown on the uprising in the Arab country that has seen thousands killed.

On the stalled peace process with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said, “The key to peace is complex, but in the end it is very simple: either President [Mahmoud] Abbas must come here or I must go to him, and I am willing for either of these possibilities to occur. However, we must begin to talk.”

Netanyahu said he hoped Putin would convey the message to the Palestinian Authority president when speaking with Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday.

“We urge all sides to renew negotiations; this is the only way to resolve the problem,” Putin responded.

Putin called his visit to Israel “a solid basis for building dialogue and partnership.”
Putin met Monday evening with Israeli President Shimon Peres, where the Russian president was welcomed by bilingual Hebrew- and Russian-speaking children.
During a work meeting they discussed strengthening the strategic relations between the two countries, the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, the Iranian nuclear threat, the ongoing crisis in Syria and the situation in the wider Middle East. 

On Tuesday, along with meeting with Abbas, Putin is scheduled to travel to Jordan.

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