Israeli President Describes Putin’s Visit as Historic

JERUSALEM (RIA Novosti) — In his remarks about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ongoing visit to Israel, president of the country Moshe Katzav said the trip was historic. "This is the highest point of relations. This visit reflects both countries and peoples’ relations-building aspirations," the Israeli president said. He said the two states had shared interests, "which is why we are interested in developing ties on a broad range of issues," he noted.

"We had different periods of storms and lulls in our relations but ever since the re-establishment of relations between Russia and Israel, they have been getting stronger," he said.

According to the Israeli president, "Jews will always remember Red Army’s role in defeating Germany. We are well aware of USSR’s support for the creation of the state of Israel."

Russia and Israel should "improve coordination in the fight against terrorism, extremism, and religious intolerance," the Russian leader said.

He said at the meeting with his Israeli counterpart, "the celebration scheduled for May 9 in Moscow will again send a strong message of the international community’s integrity in the fight against terrorism."

"The Jewish people, like the peoples of our country, suffered greatest losses during the [Second World] war," Putin said.

"However, the Nazi invasion failed to break the inspiration of our people for freedom and a right to its own way of development," the Russian president underscored.

Articles Related to the Russian President’s Historic Visit to Israel:

** Putin’s Historic Visit to Israel
** Russian, Israeli Presidents’ Joint Statement
** PM Sharon Meets with Russian President Putin
** Israel: Putin Visits Holocaust Memorial
** Putin Says He Will Help Rebuild Gaza Infrastructure
** Putin: Russia Ready for Nuclear Cooperation with Israel
** Russia Backs Palestinians’ Lawful Aspirations
** Russia to Train, Equip Palestinian Security Forces

** Putin in Jerusalem Visits Russian Ecclesiastical Mission But Not Wailing Wall
** Middle East "Roadmap" Has No Alternative – Yakovenko Says
** Israel Satisfied with Putin’s Visit
** Israel Wants to Discuss with Putin Above All
Russia’s Cooperation with Iran and Syria

Putin’s Historic Visit to Israel

(IFM) Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is carrying out the first-ever visit by a Russian or Soviet leader to Israel, is meeting this afternoon with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, THE JERUSALEM POST reported. Sharon expressed his pleasure about the timing of Putin’s visit, which is close to the anniversary of the end of World War II. Sharon told Putin at the opening of their meeting: "We will never forget how the Soviet Union liberated the concentration camps."

The Russian President met with President Moshe Katsav earlier. During their talks, Putin hinted that if Iran did not cooperate with the international community regarding its nuclear development, Russia would support taking the issue to "other venues,” most likely the UN Security Council. He also said he opposed the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran.

He stressed that Russia’s aid to Iran’s nuclear program was for peaceful purposes only. He insisted that in their deal, Russia had stipulated that spent nuclear fuel sent to Iran be returned to Russia.

After meeting with Katsav, Putin said the missile deal that Russia had signed with Syria did not pose a threat to Israel. He added that missiles which have a 300-kilometer range and thus could threaten Israel, had been excluded from the deal.

Russian, Israeli Presidents’ Joint Statement

JERUSALEM (RIA Novosti) — The presidents of Russia and Israel, Vladimir Putin and Moshe Katsav, have signed a joint statement on results of their talks.

It reads among other things, that "Russia and Israel will enhance their cooperation efficiency towards strengthening all-round interaction between the two states, showing mutual respect and trust".

The presidents of Russia and Israel have unconditionally condemned terrorism.

"The sides are full of resolve to develop cooperation in opposing the modern threats and challenges. They unconditionally condemn as criminal and unjustifiable all the acts, methods and practices of terrorism wherever and whomever commits them", the statement emphasizes.

It notes that the sides will go on actively to interact within the framework of an uncompromising struggle against terrorism in all its forms.

The document also stresses that Russia and Israel confirm the inadmissibility of resolving international conflicts by the military means and continue seeking the attainment of a fair, lasting and comprehensive settlement in the Middle East. It also intends the normalization of relations between Israel and the Arab states. The sides come out for a consistent on-ward movement to peace in the region.

The statement reads that Russia and Israel are set "comprehensively to promote the practice of consultations and the exchange of opinions in all questions of mutual interest".

"Within the framework of efforts to deepen dialog and all-round cooperation, the sides will encourage the development of contacts, exchanges in different areas, including contacts through their parliaments, security councils, representatives of the business circles, as well as in the field of science, culture, education, tourism, sport, civil society and human contacts", the statement reads.

PM Sharon Meets with Russian President Putin

Communicated by Israel’s Prime Minister’s Media Adviser

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon met this afternoon (Thursday), 28 April 2005, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and made the following remarks at the start of the meeting:

“We are pleased to host Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is my fourth meeting with President Putin and I am happy that the meeting is being held in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people. I am certain that this meeting will deepen bilateral relations. I know that, last night, you visited several sites in Jerusalem and I am certain that on your next visit you will succeed in seeing many more. I am glad that you chose this date, so close to May 9, when the world marks the victory over Nazi Germany. The State of Israel and the Jewish people will never forget the sacrifices and deeds of the Russian people, who liberated the Jews from the extermination camps.

Today, we will discuss various issues and I am certain that the warm relations between Russia and Israel, and between myself and President Putin, will remain as such and will become even warmer. I want you to know that you are among friends here.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin replied: “Thank you very much for your kind words regarding both myself and my country. You referred to the period in which this meeting is being held, days that are very important to us because our peoples suffered more victims than any others.

All of our previous meetings were fruitful and made our current meeting possible. My visit is taking place during Passover and the Eastern Orthodox Pascha. I would like to wish the Jewish people well with all my heart; I wish joy for the entire Jewish family.”

Prime Minister Sharon welcomed Russian President Putin on his visit to Israel and said that Israel is greatly interested in advancing bilateral relations and enhancing them in all areas.

Russian President Putin told the Prime Minister that he was very much enjoying his visit to Israel, which he has been looking forward to for some time. The Russian President said that his previous meetings with the Prime Minister and the personal ties between them encouraged him to visit Israel at the present time and added that he was grateful to the Prime Minister for the opportunity to make the visit.

On the Palestinian issue, Prime Minister Sharon said that Israel was committed to the Roadmap and expressed the hope that the Palestinians would honor their commitments in order to pave the way to beginning diplomatic negotiations on the Roadmap. He added that an international conference would be held at the beginning of the second stage of the Roadmap and not before.

Russian President Putin said that Russia’s intention was to propose a professional meeting at the level of experts in order to advance the diplomatic process in the region; in any case, no kind of forum would be convened without Israel’s assent.

The two leaders discussed the continued implementation of the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings and the need to take such steps as would strengthen Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen.

Russian President Putin said that it would only be in coordination and agreement with Israel that Russia would assist the Palestinian security forces so that the latter might fight terrorism more efficiently.

Prime Minister Sharon reiterated Israel’s desire to coordinate various elements of the Disengagement Plan with the Palestinian Authority and said that he had charged Vice Premier Shimon Peres with the responsibility of raising funds in order to assist Palestinian economic recovery after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.

Prime Minister Sharon said that the Palestinians must fight against terrorist infrastructures and disband the terrorist organizations, which they have refrained from doing up until now. He added that Abu Mazen is trying to reach understandings with the terrorist organizations and integrate them into the political system without disbanding them, which contravenes the Roadmap.

Prime Minister Sharon emphasized that without the full implementation of the Palestinians’ commitments, there will be no diplomatic progress.

On the issue of supplying missiles to Syria, he [Prime Minister Sharon] said that Israel was concerned that new and sophisticated weapons were liable to come into the possession of terrorist organizations. He stressed the Syrian involvement in terrorism and said that the problem was not the sale of the weapons per se but to whom the weapons are sold.

Russian President Putin said that as long as he is President, Russia would do nothing to harm Israel. Regarding the sale of SA-18’s, he said that Russia was acting as responsibly as possible so as not to disturb the military balance in the region and so as not to create a threat against Israel. The Russian President said that the sale of these missiles does not threaten Israel and emphasized that they could not reach terrorist organizations, adding that Russia has taken all necessary steps to assure this.

On the Iranian issue, Prime Minister Sharon said that an Iranian military nuclear capability constitutes a tangible and existential danger not only to Israel but also to the Middle East, Europe and the rest of the world. He added that nuclear weapons in the hands of extremist elements constitutes a danger that must be prevented in any way possible.

Russian President Putin emphasized that a nuclear Iran frightens Russia as much as it frightens Israel and said that Russia would not help Iran achieve a nuclear bomb. He added that on the Iranian issue, Russia was Israel’s ally and called for cooperation in order to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

The two leaders agreed to continue the enhancement of bilateral ties between the two countries in the security, diplomatic and economic areas in order to increase the level of cooperation and understanding. They decided to establish a direct link between their respective bureaus in order to increase cooperation between the two leaders. They also discussed the Syrian, Iranian and Hezbollah issues, as well as Russia’s voting patterns at the UN and the advancement of various bilateral issues.

At the end of the meeting, Russian President Putin told Prime Minister Sharon that he very much appreciated his determined stand in the struggle against terrorism and his commitment to the security issue and said that the terrorist organizations must receive no concessions and must be shown no weakness. He stressed that Russia was Israel’s strategic ally and said that bilateral relations must be exhausted to their fullest and best potential.

Israel: Putin Visits Holocaust Memorial

RIA Novosti Photo

JERUSALEM (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s President Vladimir Putin visited Israel. During his visit he spent close on two hours at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, and laid a wreath in the Memory Hall, where Holocaust victims are commemorated in a mourning ceremony tonight.Aaron Schneider, Yad Vashem history researcher, was with President Putin as guide.

The exposition has a vast store of heart-rending mementoes of Jewish plight in ghettos, and labor and death camps. It offers pathetic material remembrances of desperate attempts to survive in the nazi hell, Mr. Schneider said to the President. Mr. Putin’s tour started with an exposition dedicated to one of the death camps the Soviet Army liberated in 1944.

The President saw an arrangement of victims’ family snapshots, marriage certificates and other papers found in the camp.

He went on to a next room to see archive newsreels of books burned on the stake in Berlin, and world classics miraculously rescued from the fire.

The room dedicated to the Warsaw ghetto re-creates its main street, and offers a display of photographs. Movie footages of the time are shown there to mournful music for visitors to feel the authentic air.

From there, Mr. Putin came over to the room dedicated to Jews exterminated in German-occupied parts of the Soviet Union.

The next room commemorates Jewish guerrillas of World War II.

The Names Hall was the last the Russian President visited. Inscribed there are the names of all Jews killed or victimized in the Holocaust.

The President went on to the Children’s Memorial, after which he made an entry in the Visitors’ Book.

"We mourn all Holocaust victims. Tragedies as that are never to repeat. I thank all who cherish its memory and help the generations to come never to forget it," Mr. Putin wrote.

Putin Says He Will Help Rebuild Gaza Infrastructure

(IFM) Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country would help rebuild Palestinian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, Ha’Aretz reported. Putin appeared to be offering the Palestinians help in maintaining order and provide services after Israel pulls out of Gaza this summer. Putin was speaking at a joint news conference in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas after the two men met for several hours at the end of Putin’s three-day visit to the region.

Putin is also determined to arm the Palestinians, despite Israel’s objections, Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister and Information Minister Nabil Sha’ath told Saudi newspaper Al Watan. Palestinian officials indicated that Putin’s plan to give the PA 50 armored personnel carriers and two helicopters was subject to Israeli approval. Israeli approval of Putin’s plan appears unlikely.

"First let’s see some steps toward peace and then it will be possible to strengthen the Palestinian security forces, which are meanwhile taking part in fighting against us," an Israeli government source said.

Putin: Russia Ready for Nuclear Cooperation with Israel

JERUSALEM (RIA Novosti) — Russia is prepared to develop peaceful nuclear cooperation with Israel, said Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Israel does not need assistance in some areas," he said. "As for developing peaceful nuclear cooperation, we are ready to do it," he said at a press conference in Jerusalem.

He noted at the same time that Iran should terminate its nuclear weapons technologies. "Iran should abandon its nuclear weapons technologies and stop hindering IAEA control of its nuclear facilities," he said.

The Russian president said that Russia planned to sign an agreement on military-technical cooperation with Israel. "We are for developing such cooperation and plan to sign an agreement" in this sphere, he said.

Vladimir Putin said replying to a question: "If we could sign an agreement with your assistance on the delivery of Russian combat aircraft to Israel worth at least a couple of billion of dollars, I would grant you the Russian order For Services to the Homeland."

Russia Backs Palestinians’ Lawful Aspirations

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) — Russia backs the Palestinians’ lawful aspirations, including their right to the creation of an independent state "co-existing in peace and security with Israel", Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko told RIA Novosti.

"Russia is prepared to continue, together with the Palestinian leaders, active efforts for achieving peace and stability in the region and further developing Russian-Palestinian ties," he noted.

In his words, Russian-Palestinian cooperation has markedly intensified of late. The sides’ principled approaches are close or coincide. "I would like to note that they are represented most graphically in the joint Russian-Palestinian statement adopted following the result of the talks of PNA head Mahmoud Abbas in the Kremlin on January 31, 2005," he said.

The political dialog is extending and cultural, business and inter-regional contacts are being maintained, he noted. Quite a few Palestinians are studying in Russian higher schools. Many of them receive Russian state grants.

Asked about other directions of extending cooperation, the diplomat said that "the ways of further deepening foreign-policy cooperation, intensifying cultural, religious and interparliamentary exchanges, business partnership and implementing joint projects for the economic restoration of Palestinian territories are being examined". In his words, special attention is being paid to giving practical assistance to the PNA in effecting reforms, restoring order in Palestinian territories, forming a Palestinian state and solving vital social and economic problems.

Russia to Train, Equip Palestinian Security Forces

By Larry James

(VOA) Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday his country will give equipment and training to Palestinian security forces. Mr. Putin also offered to help rebuild Palestinian areas damaged by four and a half years of conflict with Israel. The statement came at a joint news conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah at the end of the Russian leader’s three-day visit to the region.

The Russian president said his country would help rebuild Palestinian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, an apparent offer to help maintain order and provide services after Israel pulls out of Gaza this summer. He called on both the Palestinians and Israelis to work to get the peace process back on track.

"The whole civilized world is on this way and we hope that both Israel and Palestine will also take the same way," he said.

For his part, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said both sides should push ahead and realize commmitments they have made.

"We are insistent [we insist on] to achieve peace and we call [on] the State of Israel to implement the Road Map, to speed up implementation of [the] Sharm el Sheikh accord and to [re]inforce our efforts for us and them," said Mahmoud Abbas. "It is a great chance."

During the news conference, Mr. Putin said his country intends to continue helping Iran develop its nuclear program, a program that he says he believes has a peaceful intent.

Israeli officials have expressed concern that Iran would use the technology to make nuclear weapons, a charge the Tehran government denies.

Mr. Putin stressed that he believes the components of Iran’s program do not threaten Israel’s security.

Mr. Putin is the first Kremlin leader to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories. He arrived at the offices of President Mahmoud Abbas with a plan to sell 50 armored personnel carriers and two helicopters to the Palestinians to replace vehicles destroyed during more than four and one-half years of Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But Israeli objections to the armored vehicle sale leave its future in doubt and Mr. Putin ended his stay with no mention of a sale.

Israel fears the vehicles could fall into the hands of militants.

Mr. Putin also came here with an offer to host a peace conference in Moscow. The idea was welcomed by the Palestinians but rejected by Israel and the United States. U.S. and Israeli officials say the time is not right for such a meeting.

In addition to Russian support for Iran’s nuclear program, Israel also objects to Moscow’s plans to sell anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.

Mr. Putin said Thursday that Russian aid to Iran and Syria are not a threat to Israel, although he acknowledged that Tehran must do more to assure the world it is not building nuclear weapons.

Putin in Jerusalem Visits Russian Ecclesiastical
Mission But Not Wailing Wall

JERUSALEM (RIA Novosti) — Putin came to the Russian Ecclesiastical mission late at night on Wednesday and stayed there for nearly an hour.

He wrote in the guest book, "To the keepers of Orthodoxy and the interests of the Russian State in the Holy Land."

Presidential press secretary Alexei Gromov said after that Putin voiced a desire to visit the Wailing Wall. But the Israeli staff replied that it would be difficult to ensure his security there and asked him to reconsider.

The Israelis took Vladimir Putin and Archbishop Yelisei, head of the Russian mission, to the observation site next to the Wailing Wall. The Russian president met with the local clergy there, including a rabbi who told Putin about the history of the site.

Middle East "Roadmap" Has No
Alternative – Yakovenko Says

MOSCOW (RIA Novosti) — The Middle East "roadmap" remains "an internationally-recognized plan without any alternative," Alexander Yakovenko, the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told RIA Novosti.

"Now it is necessary to use the existing real possibility to resume the peace process on the ‘roadmap’ basis," he said.

Yakovenko holds the view that "the fulfillment of the accords envisaged by this document will put an end to confrontation, and will enable both conflicting sides to attain mutually acceptable political aims: the Palestinians – to set up their own viable, continuous, sovereign and independent state, and the Israelis – to ensure a secure life, to acquire a good neighbor."

"The forthcoming withdrawal of Israel from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank of the Jordan river is intended to launch the ‘roadmap.’ Both sides must fulfill the obligations they assumed, and renounce any unilateral moves, which would torpedo the headway to peace," the spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry emphasized.

According to him, they proceed in Moscow from the idea that the peace process must be uninterrupted.

"The stabilization of the situation must be followed by the other steps envisaged by the ‘roadmap’, which throw a bridge to deciding the questions of the final status," Yakovenko added.

Israel Satisfied with Putin’s Visit

TEL AVIV (RIA Novosti) — A Russian head of state has visited Israel for a first time throughout its history. President Putin’s sojourn has entirely satisfied the host country. Israelis are sure the visit will give a fresh impetus to bilateral cooperation.

"That was a very, very good visit. We think we have managed to ‘cement’ ever more firmly the contacts between Moscow and Jerusalem. We had extremely fruitful talks with President Putin, and I can say Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has nothing but positive impressions of them," Mark Regev, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, told RIA Novosti yesterday.

Prominent on the Jerusalem negotiation agenda was Russian-Iranian nuclear industrial cooperation, and Russia’s prospects to export anti-aircraft missile systems to Syria. Israel is taking both matters with a great deal of apprehension.

"We really tackled those issues, and we hope Russia now better understands our position and our anxiety," said Regev.

He also commented on his country’s opinions of a Russian intention to build up Palestinian security forces. "Russia aims its efforts to promote the Palestinian National Authority on the anti-terror cause. These efforts enjoy our support. We have come to an understanding on Russia to coordinate them with us," remarked the diplomat.

Russia intends to export helicopters and liaison and communications means to Palestine, and will assist it to train security forces, Putin said as he was addressing a news conference in Palestine’s Ramallah, yesterday. "We want this cooperation to be transparent, and not to alarm Israel," he emphasized.

Israel Wants to Discuss with Putin Above All
Russia’s Cooperation with Iran and Syria

TEL AVIV April 26 (RIA Novosti) — In Israel Russia’s cooperation with Iran and Syria is understood not only as a reason for concern but also as an incentive for the development of a sincere dialog with the Russian side, Israeli presidential aide Ron Ben-Ishai told RIA Novosti on eve of the first-ever visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Israel.

The visit begins on Wednesday.

"Israel is interested in Russia not to prompt, conscientiously or not, the development of nuclear weapons in Iran. It is one of the weighty reasons why Israel and Russia are interested in the development of bilateral dialog", the interviewee said.

Ben-Ishai called the planned supplies of Russian antiaircraft missiles to Syria "a source of great anxiety for many in Israel".

"Here, as in the case of the Iranian nuclear program, the main problem for us is that such weapons and technologies may get into the hands of terrorists. I think that the Israeli leaders would like to have a direct talk with the Russian president", the presidential aide said.

Both the themes are far from all to be in discussion.

The sides may easily include at least 20 items in the list to be discussed, Ben-Ishai said. They represent mutual interest: from the Middle Eastern settlement, in which Russia is a prominent member of the quartet of international go-betweens, to the concerns of the Russian-speaking community, making up almost a quarter of the people of Israel; from opposition to the common enemy in the person of world terrorism, to shipments of Russian energy resources to Israel.

"This is why this visit is crucial", the interviewee said. "I cannot think of a more important visit. I think in significance it might be compared to the coming to Israel of the United States President George Bush".