Moscow (AFP) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks, after expressing his “deep concern” over US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.
Netanyahu, who has backed Trump’s decision on Iran, Israel’s arch-foe, said after the meeting that he shared his “views on issues that include Iran’s secret nuclear archive” and the “current tension” with the Russian leader.
“I presented Israel’s obligation and Israel’s right to defend itself from Iranian aggression from Syrian territory, against the state of Israel,” he added in a statement on Wednesday evening.
Ahead of the meeting, Putin had said he would discuss “problems in the region,” saying that “the situation unfortunately is very acute”.
“I want to express a hope that we will manage not just to discuss but also to seek a solution that would lead to a shift in the situation.”
In comments to his national Security Council, Putin expressed his “deep concern” over Trump’s decision announced on Tuesday and stressed the importance of the accord with Iran.
Netanyahu before leaving Israel for the visit said that “the meetings between us are always important and this one is especially so”.
They would “think together how we can act correctly in the region, how we can remove the threats that exist in the region in a responsible and reasonable way”.
– ‘Bold’ move-
The two leaders on Wednesday watched a Red Square parade marking the anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.
Netanyahu thanked Putin for referring to the Holocaust in his parade speech, likening the Nazi extermination campaign to Iran’s attitude to Israel.
“It’s hard to believe, but 73 years after the Holocaust, in our Middle East there is a country Iran that openly calls for the destruction of the state of Israel,” he said in translated comments.
“But there is a difference between what was then and what is today: we have our own country,” he added.
Russia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday it was “deeply disappointed” by Trump’s announcement that the United States would pull out of the Iran deal, while Netanyahu strongly supported the US president’s “bold” move.
Moscow and Tehran have close political and economic relations.
In the nuclear field, Russia has already built one reactor at Iran’s Bushehr plant, the country’s only nuclear power plant, and has started work on two new ones.
By contrast Netanyahu on Monday held a televised presentation of what he called “proof” of Iran’s alleged past military nuclear ambitions.
Netanyahu and Putin have held a series of meetings and phone conversations in recent months, particularly related to the conflict in Syria where Israel has vowed to prevent Iran building a military presence.