RIA Novosti

ISRAELI PARLIAMENTARIANS DEBATE IRANIAN ISSUE AT MOSCOW NEGOTIATION TABLE

22:47 19/04/2005

MOSCOW, April 19 (Marianna Belenkaya, RIA Novosti political commentator) - Uval Steints, chair of the Knesset foreign and security affairs committee, and committee member Tomi Lapid are presently in Moscow. Their visit agenda centered on debating Iranian nuclear programs, the Israeli parliamentarians said to a Novosti news conference to sum up the visit.

They had met at the negotiation table with Igor Ivanov, Russia's Security Council Secretary, Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister, and certain members of the State Duma, parliament's lower house.

"We are keeping abreast with efforts Russia is making, in team with other European countries, to keep Iran off nuclear weaponry. Be all that as it may, the USA, Europe and Russia are all underestimating the developments, even despite their mounting realization of danger coming from Iran," said Mr. Steints.

The negotiation agenda also included Russian missile exports to Syria. "Terrorists have no chance to lay their hands on the missiles, Russia reassured us-but I can't say I feel completely reassured on that score," pointed out Mr. Lapid. Even that could not spoil the atmosphere at the talks.

Israel is eager for closer economic ties with Russia, and willing to engage on joint projects in third countries, said the visitors. Of those projects, Mr. Lapid highlighted joint aircraft building for India as the most promising.

Messrs. Steints and Lapid had come to Russia to promote bilateral dialogue on defense and international anti-terror efforts. "Russia is among our key partners in that field," said Mr. Steints. Bilateral alliance in this vital sphere became especially close and dynamic two years ago to involve technological exchanges on a par with information shared, he added.

"We are here to do our bit for the progress of our two countries' friendly contacts. We share interests and challenges," he emphasized. The Moscow talks were all the more essential as preceding President Vladimir Putin's visit to Israel by a mere week, went on the parliamentarian.

The sheer fact that President Putin will appear in Israel and in the area controlled by the Palestinian National Authority promises to encourage the peaceful settlement cause. If Russia determines to offer the Palestinian Authority economic support, Israel will greet the prospect, said Mr. Lapid.

He thanked the Soviet Army and the entire Russian nation for their contribution to victory over Nazis during World War II. "I am the last Knesset member to have survived the Holocaust. The Red Army liberated me from the ghetto in Budapest, and it matters to me tremendously that I am here in Moscow shortly before 60th V-E Day anniversary celebrations," said the aged parliamentarian.

Israel resolutely denounces recent neo-nazi public demonstrations in Latvia, he added. Even now, sixty years after World War II, the world still encounters fascist outbreaks, and many European cities still have to hear anti-Semitic mottos, though the human race has not forgotten the Holocaust, he said with deep regret.

Anti-Semitism was prominent on the agenda as the Israeli visitors were holding negotiations in Moscow. Anti-Semitic outrages do not in the slightest reflect actual moods and opinions on the Russian top and in the public, Konstantin Kosachev, State Duma international affairs committee chief, reassured them. "We accepted his reassurance," said Mr. Lapid.

© RIA Novosti