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ICEJ NEWS - 09/05/2001
On his three-day visit to Moscow, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, receiving some encouraging support in the battle against Palestinian terrorism, but with no apparent breakthrough in Israel's bid to halt Russian arms sales and nuclear transfers to Iran.
Sharon's agenda has included attempts to enlist Russian help in a worldwide campaign to exert pressure on PLO chief Yasser Arafat to stop the intifada violence, to convince Putin to reduce nuclear supplies and know-how to Iran, and to interest Russian businessmen in Israeli opportunities.
Sharon met Putin just as news of a Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem was beginning to spread. Putin told Sharon, "Russia is a natural ally of Israel," and added, "You know our basic position in the fight against terrorism. Nothing can justify terrorist acts against civilians."
Putin also said that Russia was ready to help with solving the crisis in the Middle East, and added that the good connections that Russia enjoyed with Arab countries could be helpful.
In his meeting with Sharon, Ivanov related that he had planned in advance not to attend the UN Conference on Racism in Durban, South Africa because he knew it would turn out negatively.
Sharon asked that Russia use its influence with Syria in an attempt to dissuade Syrian leaders from endorsing terrorism, primarily activities carried out by Hizb'Allah on the Israel-Lebanon border. Sharon added that Syria's request to join the United Nations Security Council should be used as an opportunity for other countries to pressure Syria to oppose terrorism.
On Wednesday evening, Sharon is to participate in a large assembly of the Russian Jewish community, organized by the Israeli Embassy in Moscow and featuring two rival groups who each claim to represent Russian Jewry. Sharon reportedly canceled plans to meet with the leader of the Communist party and the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox church. Some reports claimed it was due to a sudden illness, but members of Sharon's entourage denied these rumors.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.