12 September 201923:51

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s press statement following talks between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, Sochi, September 12, 2019

1831-12-09-2019

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President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu have completed their talks.

By tradition, these contacts are trust-based and open and make it possible to discuss any matters in a free and open manner.

Much attention was paid to bilateral relations, primarily in the trade and economic sphere. The parties discussed the preparations for the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Commission due to be held before the end of this year. Among other things, the topics that are being prepared for consideration at this meeting embrace the easing of customs procedures to enable more rapid two-way clearance of goods. Digital economy is also on the agenda. The Business Council will be convened for its regular meeting in tandem with the Intergovernmental Commission; the Business Forum will be held to promote direct business-to-business ties. The parties also reaffirmed their intention to speed up the coordination of a free trade agreement between Israel and the Eurasian Economic Union.

They stated that tourism was one of the highly promising spheres of our interaction. Matters related to Russian property in the Holy Land were also discussed. The Israeli government helps ensure the normal functioning of this property and solve promptly the remaining problems related to the restitution of certain sites to the Russian Federation.

They talked about our humanitarian cooperation and interaction in the sphere of commemorations, including in connection with the approaching anniversaries. Next January, we will mark 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz. The opening of a monument to the survivors of the Siege of Leningrad is scheduled for the same date. President of Russia Vladimir Putin has been invited to attend these events and he has confirmed that he views the invitation in a positive way. Of course, we expect the Israeli leaders to attend the celebrations of the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War on Red Square [in Moscow] on May 9, 2020. The Israeli leadership has confirmed its commitment to all the events designed to perpetuate the memory of heroes.

Let me note that we cooperate closely with the Israelis at the UN and other international organisations to uphold the historical truth and prevent the glorification of Nazism, any manifestations of intolerance and similar misanthropic ideologies.

Internationally, the main focus was on developments in the Middle East and North Africa with an emphasis on the Syrian settlement. Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu has provided a detailed account of security concerns felt by Israel. The parties have agreed to continue and intensify dialogue through military-to-military channels, which is making good progress. Both parties have expressed support for efforts of this kind. We described steps that Russia was taking to support the Syrian Government’s efforts in the fight against terrorists, who still remain in the Idlib zone, invigorate humanitarian assistance and promote the political process, including the formation of a Constitutional Committee. This process is about to be completed.

We put a special emphasis on the need – and in this regard, the Israelis fully agree with us – to respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in actual practice rather than only in word. In this sense, we upped the ante by urging assistance to the Syrian authorities and the Syrians at large in returning to peaceful life. It was stressed that the sanctions, which the US and the European countries had introduced against the legitimate government of Syria, were wholly counterproductive.

As I see it, we have found an understanding with regard to these matters among our Israeli colleagues.

That was the gist of the talks.

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