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Netanyahu in Russia for talks with Putin

PM hopes to convince Kremlin to back a slightly tougher deal for Iran at newest round of nuclear talks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Jerusalem on June 25, 2012 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Jerusalem on June 25, 2012 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Russia Wednesday for a meeting with Russian President Vladmir Putin to discuss nuclear talks with Iran, among other issues.

While Israel does not expect that the Kremlin will change its position significantly on Iran, the prime minister will try to elicit help from Russia to tailor any agreement more to Israeli standards, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who is accompanying Netanyahu on the trip, Israel Radio reported.

“[We] don’t expect that Russia will adopt Israel’s views [on Iran], but even a slight change in Russia’s position could affect the expected agreement between the [world] powers and Iran,” he said.

Iran and six world powers are scheduled to begin a third installment of negotiations Wednesday with the goal of resurrecting an interim deal that fell apart at the eleventh hour of the last round of talks.

Russia is a staunch supporter of Iran, and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Saturday that there is a “very good” chance that the next meeting will produce an preliminary agreement, but that there are some tough issues to resolve. He also laid the blame for the failure of the last round on the US for bowing to pressure from France to add last-minute changes to a working draft.

Netanyahu last visited Russia in May, when he and Putin met for emergency talks at the Black Sea resort of Sochi to discuss the situation in Syria, amid concerns that Moscow could soon provide Damascus with a cutting-edge missile defense system.

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