Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow on Thursday to discuss the U.S. Mideast peace plan and take an Israeli woman who had been jailed in Russia back home.
Netanyahu landed in Russia's capital just minutes after Naama Issachar was released from prison. Putin pardoned the 26-year-old backpacker, who was arrested in April at a Moscow airport where she was transferring en route from India to Israel, a day earlier. Russian authorities said more than nine grams of hashish were found in her luggage and the New-Jersey born woman was later sentenced to 7.5 years in prison.
Russian President Vladimir Putin asked Netanyahu to give his regards to Issachar and her mother, saying he decided to pardon Naama after meeting with Yaffa at World Holocaust Forum event in Jerusalem last week.
The president, nevertheless, emphasized the woman had illegal drugs in her possession when she was arrested.
"I would like to thank you on behalf of all the people of Israel for granting a pardon to Naama Issachar," Netanyahu said. "We are all touched by this. This visit symbolizes an even greater warming in the relations between us."
The prime minister made the stopover 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 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."