Thursday, June 04, 2009

Israeli minister in Russia amid differences

From AFP, 3/6/09:

MOSCOW — Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman met the Russian leadership on a visit marked by differences over Moscow's policy towards Iran and Palestinian militants.

Lieberman, a Russian-speaker born in Soviet-era Moldova, met Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow before going into talks with President Dmitry Medvedev and later meeting Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, officials said.

...Russia is promoting a plan to host a Middle East peace conference, preferably this year, despite Israeli concerns. ...Lieberman had made it clear Israel would not attend if representatives of the Palestinian militant group Hamas were invited.

Lieberman will also try to wean Russia off its relatively close ties to Iran, due to Israeli fears about Iran's nuclear programme and also worries that the Islamic Republic could be emboldened by a recent nuclear test in North Korea, the Russian newspaper said. "The Israelis believe cooperation between the Islamic Republic and several states including Russia is helping speed up Tehran's moves in a dangerous direction. But they haven't yet managed to persuade Russia of this," [Russian daily newspaper] Kommersant said.

However Kommersant noted Lieberman would enjoy the highest-level reception in meeting both Russia's president and prime minister and said both sides would strive for an upbeat tone. "The first Russian-speaking foreign minister of the Jewish state has set developing relations with Russia as one of his priorities. Moscow is treating him in kind," Kommersant said.
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