Netanyahu in Moscow

Netanyahu receives full honors upon arrival in Moscow on Monday. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Marking 25 years of diplomatic relations, Netanyahu and Putin conducted warm and friendly talks in Moscow, focusing on working together to combat global Islamic terror as well as enhanced economic and technological cooperation.

Russia and Israel will expand their cooperation in the fight against terrorism, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday.

Putin, who took Netanyahu on a personal tour of the Kremlin, also discussed improved economic ties, including the suggestion to establish a “free trade area between the Eurasian union and Israel.”

“We talked about the need to take joint efforts to confront international terrorism,” Putin said at a news conference following his talks with the Israeli leader. “We undoubtedly are allies in that area, and our countries have accumulated a significant experience in fighting extremism. We will strengthen contacts with Israeli colleagues in that sphere.”

Netanyahu in Moscow

Netanyahu visits “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” on Tuesday, a war memorial, dedicated to the Soviet soldiers killed during World War II, during his official state visit to Moscow. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Putin said they discussed the situation in the Middle East and particularly in Syria, where Russia conducted an air campaign against those opposing the government. Moscow has coordinated its action with Israel to prevent any possible incidents between Russian and Israeli armies.

Facing Putin, Netanyahu said, “I would like to thank you for the cooperation in these fields, and all of the fields which we are pushing forward with in a cooperation you described so well: We celebrate 25 years of renewed diplomatic relations between (our) states today.”

Reminiscing about the earlier years, he added, “I remember those days, those first years and what preceded them. I was at a meeting between Yitzhak Shamir and Andrei Gromyko in New York. Since then our relations have developed systematically and at an increasing pace; this visit, of course, is a milestone. 

“There was a strong bridge for the resumption of relations and the strength of feeling between the two peoples,” Netanyahu continued. “We will never forget the role of the Russian people and the Red Army in its effort in the east, in tandem with the efforts in the west, to defeat the Nazis. The memorial in Netanya is a concrete and tangible expression of this historical memory. But it was a living bridge in the form of over a million of our citizens who came from the former USSR, Russian speakers from birth, and they truly are splendid ambassadors between our two countries. 

PM Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu in Moscow

PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara at the Russuan Foreign Ministry’s exhibition, titled “open doors towards Israel.” (Haim Zch/GPO)

“Today we marked the first 25 years of the resumption of relations but we focused mainly on looking forward to the next 25 years,” he affirmed. “We are cooperating in the fields of technology, innovation and high-tech, in economic matters, trade, tourism and culture – we will soon see a living expression of this at this evening’s performance – and in many other areas.”

Netanyahu stressed that he and Putin discussed contacts between the two nations’ militaries in the region, in order “to prevent any incidents, and also to ensure success in fighting our common enemy: international terrorism.”

“We had a long and thorough discussion of the challenge cast to the entire civilized world by the radical Islamic terrorism,” he stated.

Ahead of his meeting with Putin, the Israeli leader told Russian news outlets that he will not allow Iran to gain a foothold in Syria via the Hezbollah terror group.

“We have a red line, a boundary that we will not allow to be broken. Iran will not be allowed, using Hezbollah, to use Syrian territory to attack us and open up another terrorist front against us in the Golan,” Netanyahu told the TASS news agency and the state-run Interfax news service.

Russian-Speaking Israelis Strengthen Ties

Israeli citizens with origins in Russia and other former Soviet nations are helping bring Russia and Israel closer, Putin said.

Netanyahu echoed Putin’s words, saying Russian-speaking Israeli citizens form a “living bridge” between the two nations. Russia and Israel will further develop economic and trade ties, the two leaders said.

The Israeli prime minister also thanked Putin for handing over an Israeli tank captured by Syrian forces in the 1982 war in Lebanon. The tank had ended up in a museum outside Moscow. Its crew of three is listed as missing in action.

“I would like to thank you on behalf of our country and its people for that gesture of goodwill,” he told Putin. “The fact that you acceded to my request and that of the IDF Chief-of-Staff to return to Israel the tank from the Battle of Sultan Yacoub attests to the strength of our bilateral relations. This is a humanitarian gesture of the highest order for the families of the MIAs from this battle who for decades have had no grave to visit. We are not abandoning our MIAs and we will continue to look for what happened to them and bring them back home, but at this time I would like to thank you on behalf of myself, the people of Israel and the families for this important gesture. It touches our hearts.”

By: AP and United with Israel Staff

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