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Russia president holds first meeting with Israel PM

October 22, 2021 at 1:37 pm

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett during their meeting, in Sochi, Russia on 22 October 2021 [YEVGENY BIYATOV/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images]

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at his residence Bocharov Ruchey in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi today.

This is the first time the two have met since Bennett assumed the office of Israel’s prime minister in June.

Opening the meeting, Putin hailed Russian-Israeli ties as “unique”, saying Israel is home to the largest Russian-speaking community abroad.

He said the volume of trade and economic relations is “modest”, but they are on a positive trajectory.

Putin expressed the hope that Bennett’s government will pursue a policy of continuity in bilateral ties, as Moscow developed “quite businesslike and trusting relations with the former government.”

The Russian leader suggested an exchange of opinions on Syria and the situation in the region in general, saying there are issues but also “points of contact and opportunities for cooperation,” especially in the fight against terrorism.

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Bennett agreed that Russian-Israeli relations are “special because of a common past, present, and future.”

He recalled the Soviet role in World War II, and vowed “to convey to future generations the feeling of gratitude towards Russia.”

“We will discuss in detail, I am sure, Mr. President, our economic cooperation … we have great potential, and we can actively increase the volume of our trade turnover,” he added.

The Israeli prime minister said he would like to discuss developments in Syria and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which collapsed after then-US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018. The new US administration is now working to revive the agreement, a move Israel opposes.