Amid concerns the raging war in Syria may widen, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold on Thursday that Russia is keen on seeing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process resume.
Gold, heading a high level foreign ministry delegation for two days of talks in Moscow, responded that “regional security is a prerequisite for peace making.”
Gold and Lavrov know each other from when they worked together while serving as their respective countries ambassadors to the UN in the late 1990s.
Welcoming Gold in Moscow, Lavrov said that as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a member of the Middle East Quartet, Russia is interested in creating conditions “for the resumption of the peace process between Israel and Palestine in order to achieve our common goal – two states that exist in peace and security with all its neighbors.”
Lavrov said that his meeting with Gold would “cover key bilateral issues and, of course, international issues, especially the situation in the Middle East.”
Unfortunately, the foreign minister said, “there is something to talk about, and not in a very positive way: the ongoing crisis in Syria, Libya, Yemen and the situation in Iraq."
Lavrov praised Israeli-Russian cooperation, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet regularly and speak often on the phone. He said that there is a stable mechanism between the two capitals for consultation, and that plans for further consultations will be drawn up during Gold's visit.
Lavrov noted that this year the two countries will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic ties, “and in this regard we have encouraged the intensity of our contacts. Among the events this year to mark the event will be the preparation of documents entitled, ‘Soviet-Israeli relations, 1953-1967’.”
As first reported on Monday, the visit comes amid heightened tension between the world powers over the situation in Syria, and as there is increasing talk – including by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday – of a return to the Cold War.
Jerusalem and Moscow have been in close contact since Russia stepped up its involvement in Syria in September, with Netanyahu flying to Moscow that month to meet Putin to establish a deconfliction mechanism to ensure that Israel and Russia do not accidentally engage one-another in Syria.
The two leaders have spoken on the phone a number of times since, and have agreed to continue their dialogue regarding the situation in Syria and other regional issues.
Gold’s meetings in Moscow is part of a series of talks that he has initiated over the last few months in various capitals around the world, having held similar discussions recently in both Washington and Cairo. Next week he is scheduled to go to London.
In addition to meeting with Lavrov, the Israeli delegation also met with Putin's foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. Diplomatic officials said that said that the discussions spawned the range of issues, “from Iran to Syria to the Palestinian issue.” The discussions did not focus on security issues, such as Russia's reportedly on the brink of supplying S300 anti-aircraft batteries to Iran, since there is a security channel for those types of discussions.
At the end of the meeting, the two sides signed an agreement outlining cooperation in 14 different fields, including strategic planning.
by Herb Keinon
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