Vladimir Putin: Mr Prime Minister,
We are very pleased to welcome the head of the Israeli Government and the representative delegation accompanying him to Moscow. We met last year and I remember from our previous meetings that the Prime Minister’s family, including his parents, are émigrés from the Russian Empire and that the Prime Minister loves Russia and knows our history and culture. We greatly appreciate that.
The relations between our countries, despite all the problems in the Middle East, are developing in a very positive way. Our trade has topped the $1 billion mark. Prospects in hi-tech areas and in the military-technical sphere are good. But of course we are above all interested in exchanging information and opinions with you on the situation in the Middle East as a whole and between Israel and Palestine. We are very eager to know your opinion about the relations within the Israel-Syria-Lebanon triangle. And of course about the entire range of issues surrounding Iraq.
As you know, Russia supports the efforts of the President of the United States in fighting international terrorism. We see Israel as an important member of the international anti-terrorist coalition. I believe that the main task today is to bring back international observers to Iraq as soon as possible and not only to discuss all the issues surrounding Iraq, but to achieve a final solution by political and diplomatic means within the framework of the United Nations Security Council.
We know that the situation in the region and in your country is very complicated. We share your grief over the victims of terrorism and we condemn any manifestations of terrorism.
Nevertheless we welcome your decision to lift the blockade of the headquarters of Yasser Arafat. I know that decisions of this kind are difficult because you are of course under domestic pressure. We believe that the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1435 passed on Russia’s initiative creates a new basis, along with the other documents, for solving this problem. For our part we are ready to work towards that end.
We are glad to see you in Moscow, Mr Prime Minister. Welcome.