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Bennett, Putin discuss Iran, airstrikes in Syria in five-hour meeting

Bennett, Putin discuss Iran, airstrikes in Syria in five-hour meeting

Bennett's visit to Russia will carry on until after Shabbat, as his meeting with Putin was described as "warm and intimate."


Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on the continuation of current policy regarding Israeli airstrikes in Syria at their Sochi meeting on Friday.

The meeting between the Israeli and Russian heads of state lasted five hours, leaving Bennett in Russia for Shabbat.

Construction and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who also acts as the ministerial liaison to the Knesset, accompanied Bennett to his meeting in the Russian beach resort city.

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"The meeting was as warm and intimate as any over the last decade," Elkin said in a press briefing following the meeting. "The dialogue between the prime minister and the president was very warm; they also spoke on personal matters," he said, adding such matters do not usually come up at such high-level meetings.

Bennett and Putin discussed efforts to halt Iran's military nuclear program and agreed on the establishment of a task force to find solutions for Russian tourists to enter Israel, with the Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine yet to gain approval from the FDA.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid congratulated the two for their successful meeting on Twitter, adding that he has spoken to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov and invited him to Israel.

Bennett’s planned schedule was to meet with Putin at 10 a.m. and fly back to Israel at 1 p.m., without an overnight stay. However, the meeting went on for an additional two hours, and then Putin took Bennett for a tour of the grounds of his vacation home in the Black Sea resort town.

Bennett observes Shabbat, and Israeli prime ministers have traditionally not traveled on the biblical day of rest. His trip to Washington in August was also extended until Saturday night, after a terrorist attack took place in Kabul, killing US servicemen, and US President Joe Biden postponed their meeting from Thursday to Friday.