Jerusalem (AFP) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit Moscow Monday to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, the premier’s office said, with the two having held talks in recent months over the conflict in Syria.
Netanyahu’s two-day trip is his third to Russia since September and also comes as the two nations mark 25 years since the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.
The Israeli premier’s office said the two leaders would discuss “implementing the understandings reached during Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow in April”.
They will also discuss “regional issues, including those pertaining to the fight against global terror, the situation in Syria and its surroundings, and the prospectives for the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians”, a statement read.
With both Israel and Russia having carried out military operations in war-torn Syria, the two countries have sought to coordinate their actions to avoid accidental clashes.
Russian forces back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the conflict.
Israel opposes Assad but has sought to avoid being dragged into the war. However, it fears that the chaos in the neighbouring country could help strengthen its arch-enemy Hezbollah.
Netanyahu admitted publicly for the first time in April that Israel had attacked dozens of convoys in Syria which were transporting weapons to the Lebanese Shiite militia, which fights alongside Assad’s forces.
In September, Netanyahu and Putin agreed to set up a “hotline” to avoid accidental clashes.
Joining him will be Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Soviet-born Zeev Elkin, a minister with Netanyahu’s Likud party who will finalise a deal regulating pensions for Russian expats who moved to the Jewish state.
Netanyahu will also visit the Moscow museum holding an Israeli tank taken by Syrian forces in the 1982 Lebanon war and later handed over to Russia, which Putin recently agreed to return to Israel.
Israel had sought the return of the tank in part to console the families of soldiers missing in action since the battle in which it was captured.