Russia, Israel to continue talks on Iran, says Putin


RUSSIAN PRESIDENT Vladimir Putin, speaking during a 24-hour visit to Israel, says Moscow and Jerusalem will continue consultations aimed at ending the nuclear standoff with Iran through peaceful means.

With Israel insisting all options remain on the table to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said after his talks with Mr Putin that both countries agreed Iranian nuclear weapons would constitute a grave danger for both the Jewish state and the entire world.

“I believe that we should be doing two things now: boosting the sanctions and also boosting the demands,” Mr Netanyahu said.

Ahead of Mr Putin’s arrival, Israeli officials made it clear Jerusalem believed that persuading Russia was essential if there was to be any breakthrough on two key regional issues: halting Iran’s nuclear drive and stopping the violence in Syria.

“I would like to stress again that the negotiations were detailed and very effective,” Mr Putin said.

“I’m convinced that the co-operation between Russia and Israel will develop later as well, and this matter certainly meets the demands and interests of both states, in the region and in the world at large.”

During the joint news conference, Mr Netanyahu referred to the victory of Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi in the Egyptian presidential run-off.

“We look forward to working together with the new administration on the basis of the peace agreement between us,” he said.

“I believe peace is important for Israel. I believe peace is important for Egypt.”

Earlier, president Shimon Peres greeted Mr Putin in a dedication ceremony for a memorial to the Red Army’s victory over Nazi Germany in Netanya, an Israeli coastal resort where one in three residents is a Russian immigrant.

Mr Peres said he was certain Russia, which fought fascism, will not tolerate similar threats, “not an Iranian threat and not bloodshed in Syria”.

Today, Mr Putin will visit the West Bank for talks with Palestinian leaders. He told Israeli leaders that against the backdrop of developments in the region it was important to resolve long-term conflicts: “We urge all sides to renew negotiations; this is the only way to resolve the problem.”

Mr Netanyahu said Israel would welcome the resumption of direct talks.“One of two things can happen: either president Abbas comes over here, or I go over there. Either way, we must start talking.”