Feb. 6 (UPI) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday he plans to travel to Russia later this month to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Feb. 21 trip, the first formal meeting between the two leaders in about a year, is expected to address Iranian efforts to establish a military presence in Syria.
“It’s very important that we continue to prevent Iran from entrenching in Syria. In many ways we’ve blocked that advance and we’re committed to continue blocking it, preventing Iran from creating another warfront against us, right here opposite the Golan Heights. This is the main subject I will be discussing with President Putin,” Netanyahu said.
The meeting will be the second time the two leaders have been together in one place since Russia said the Israeli government was solely to blame for downing a Russian intelligence plane in September.
They met briefly in Paris in November during a celebration for the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Netanyahu made the announcement during a news conference with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen on Tuesday. The two planned to discuss technology and cybersecurity as well as sign an agreement on culture and science.
“We both have advanced societies with very capable people, and the more we exchange with each other the better we’ll do for each of our countries,” Netanyahu said of the meeting with Van der Bellen.
Netanyahu went on to say the greatest challenge facing their countries is “radicalism and fanaticism” in the form of “militant Islam” and that Israel “is doing more than its fair share in that regard.”
“We have a great challenge from Iran that openly calls for our destruction. It minces no words about this. We’re committed to preventing their acquisition of nuclear weapons which would be directed at us, but we’re also committed to preventing their aggression in Syria,” Netanyahu said.