Israel FM hopes Russian leader will visit this year

29th June 2010, Comments 0 comments

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Tuesday after a meeting with Moscow's top diplomat that he hoped Russia's president or prime minister would visit the Jewish state in 2010.

"I hope that by the end of the year there will be a visit by President Dmitry Medvedev or Prime Minister Vladimir Putin," Lieberman said at a press conference with visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lieberman, an immigrant from Moldova whose mother tongue is Russian, said they had discussed the two countries' "close bilateral relations and the situation in the Middle East," without providing further details.

Lavrov said he hoped for the renewal of direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians following the launch of indirect US-brokered negotiations in May.

He also welcomed Israel's recent decision to allow more goods into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip while calling for the complete lifting of its four-year blockade of the impoverished territory.

Meanwhile, Lavrov requested an explanation from Washington regarding the arrest of an alleged spy ring, which came at a time of rapidly warming ties between the two countries.

"They did not explain what the matter is about. I hope they will," he said, referring to US authorities.

"The moment when it was done has been chosen with a special finesse," he said with apparent sarcasm.

Medvedev and US leader Barack Obama met in Washington earlier this month to underscore warming ties between the two Cold War adversaries.

But on Monday US authorities said they had cracked open a massive alleged spy ring, announcing the arrest of 10 "deep-cover" suspects after unravelling a mission secretly monitored by the FBI for more than a decade.

© 2010 AFP

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