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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sharon: Putin a True Friend of Israel

APVladimir Putin welcoming Ariel Sharon to the Kremlin for a meeting on Monday.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Monday praised friendly ties with Russia and called President Vladimir Putin a "true friend of Israel."

Welcoming Sharon to the Kremlin, Putin said Russia would continue trying to help the Middle East peace settlement and added that recent violence in Israel had caused much concern in Russia for former citizens who have emigrated to Israel.

"We know Israel is striving for peace," Putin said. "The Jewish people have suffered a lot over the last decades."

Sharon, who arrived in Moscow on Sunday on his third visit as prime minister, answered in kind. He said Israel highly values friendly ties with Moscow.

"President Putin is a true friend of Israel," he said at the start of talks. "We highly appreciate Putin's attitude, and his repeated personal safety guarantees for the state of Israel."

Sharon said Israel was ready to compromise for the sake of peace.

"I have repeatedly said during our meetings with President Putin that Israel was ready to make concessions in exchange for a real peace," Sharon said. "Israel is probably the only state in the world that is ready to make concessions even though it hasn't lost a single war."

Russian and Israeli officials said the two leaders would focus on a Russian-backed UN resolution on a Middle East peace plan and Israel's concern about Iran's nuclear program.

Israeli officials traveling with Sharon said the talks would also touch on proposals for improved intelligence-sharing in the international fight against terrorism.

In addition to Putin, Sharon was to meet Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Russian Jewish leaders before returning to Tel Aviv on Tuesday evening.