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News Analysis: Putin's visit to Israel more symbolic than strategic

(Xinhua)

08:29, June 25, 2012

JERUSALEM, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Iran's nuclear program will be at the top of the agenda in Israeli officials meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will arrive in Israel on Monday for a one-day visit.

With close business ties with Iran and as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Russia wields considerable influence over Iran's nuclear issue, which Israel will want to exploit toward imposing tougher sanction on Iran, meant to convince it to end its alleged nuclear military program.

However, analysts told Xinhua that all the main issues to be discussed at the head-of-state-level meetings have already been dealt with in lower level preparatory meetings held months ago, and no drastic changes are likely.

"I don't think that there will be any very serious political discussions during this one-day visit; mainly it will be a ceremonial visit," Dr. Baruch Gur-Gurevitch of the University of Haifa told Xinhua on Sunday.

"There will be a short meeting in which some political matters will be discussed. In general there will be a bit on Syria and a bit on Iran but it won't be a very important political visit," he added.

The situation in Syria, which continues to look more and more like a civil war, is of lesser interest to Israel, although Israel and Russia share a concern the conflicts in the country might spread and affect other nations in the region.

Zvi Magen, a former Israeli Ambassador to Russia and currently at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, said that the Iran issue and the situation in Syria will be among the topics to be discussed -- but they won't be the only ones.

"There are, of course, bilateral interests on an economic and a strategic level, because Russia is looking for new partners in the area. So this topic will also be discussed together with the Iranian and Syrian issues," Magen said.

He added that the brevity of Putin's visit isn't indicative of its importance. The visit is aimed at showing that Russia is still an important global power, and Putin wants to show his interest in Israel.

One of the economic issues that is expected to be discussed during the meeting is Russia's interest in Israel's recent funding of natural gas under the Mediterranean Sea.

Russia has expressed interest in helping with the development of Israeli gas fields of Leviathan and Tamar and to sell the gas to a third party, calling for a closer collaboration between the two countries in gas exploration.

In addition, Russia is also interested in establishing closer ties with Israel's defense industries. In the last two years Russia has purchased 12 drones from different Israeli companies.

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:姚春、马茜)

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