Israeli PM in Moscow for Peace Talks

Israeli PM in Moscow for Peace Talks

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Israeli prime minister came to Moscow on Thursday to discuss the U.S. Mideast peace plan and take an Israeli woman who had been jailed in Russia back home.

Benjamin Netanyahu made a stopover in Moscow after visiting Washington where President Donald Trump as he unveiled his long-awaited Mideast peace plan Tuesday.

Trump's plan envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel. It sides with Israel on key contentious issues that have bedeviled past peace efforts, including borders and the status of Jerusalem and Jewish settlements, and attaches nearly impossible conditions for granting the Palestinians their hoped-for state.

Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin as they sat down for talks in the Kremlin that he wants to discuss the plan and hear his opinion about it.

"You are the first leader I am speaking with after my visit in Washington for Trump's Deal of the Century," he said. "I think there is a new opportunity here, maybe even unique opportunity, and I'd like to discuss it with you and hear your insights."

Trump called his plan a "win-win" for both Israel and the Palestinians, and urged the Palestinians not to miss their opportunity for independence. But Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the plan as "nonsense" and vowed to resist it.

Putin didn't talk about Trump's plan in his opening remarks, and Russian officials so far have refrained from comment — a careful stance reflecting the Kremlin's desire to maintain warm ties with Israel and its hopes for rapprochement with Trump's administration.

The Israeli leader's visit comes a day after Putin pardoned 26-year-old Naama Issachar, who was arrested in April at a Moscow airport, where she was transferring en route from India to Israel. Russian authorities said more than nine grams of hashish were found in her luggage. She was convicted and sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison.

Putin asked Netanyahu to give his regards to Issachar and her mother.

"I would like to thank you on behalf of all the people of Israel for granting a pardon to Naama Issachar," Netanyahu said. "This moves all of us and our gratitude is on behalf of all Israeli citizens, from the heart."

He added that Russia-Israel relations are now "the best they have ever been."

Issachar got on the plane with Netanyahu and sat with him and his wife on the way home.

(KR)