Olmert to discuss Iranian nukes in Moscow
Prime minister set to leave Thursday morning on day-long visit to Russian capital, to meet with President Putin for two hours at Kremlin. Topic of discussion: Iran's nuclear program, warmly adopted by Putin in his recent meeting with Iranian President Ahmadinejad
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is set to leave for Moscow on Thursday morning to meet with Russian President Vladmir Putin for discussions on Iran's nuclear program.
Olmert will meet with Putin a day after the Russian leader returned from a visit to Iran, where he discussed future plans for Iranian-Russian nuclear cooperation with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Olmert decided to make the visit only on Tuesday and preparations for the meeting were made the following day.
The prime minister will be accompanied by four advisors: His chief of staff Yoram Turbowitz, political strategist Shalom Turjeman, military analyst Major-General Meir Kalifi and press advisor Yanki Galanti. All five will return to Israel on Thursday evening.
There will be no members of the press present within the entourage.
The main topic of discussion will be Tehran's nuclear ambitions. Israel is also unhappy that Russia supplies Syria with weapons because most major terror groups including Hamas have their headquarters in the Syrian capital. Russian-made weapons have also made their way into the hands of Hizbullah.
Relations between Olmert and Putin have been warm on the whole despite disagreements over certain issues.
The Opposition has attacked the Israeli head of state for his trip because of the hasty and secretive manner in which it was planned.
A senior Likud source told Ynet, "It is not possible to rule out that his quick departure to Moscow is an exit from tough situation he is in, after the attorney general decided to launch criminal investigations against him for suspicions of fraud when he was minister of industry, trade and labor."
The Prime Minister's Office responded angrily by saying, "These accusations do not even deserve a rebuttal."
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, however, telephoned Olmert on Wednesday evening and asked him to tell the Russian president that "in Israel we are all united in believing that Iran must not obtain a nuclear weapon.
"There is no coalition or opposition over this issue in Israel," Netanyahu said.
Preparations for Annapolis conference continue
Prime Minister Olmert and US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice met for three hours at the Israeli leader's Jerusalem residence on Wednesday evening. The two attempted to bridge the gaps between Israeli and Palestinian negotiating positions.
"The joint document at the Annapolis conference will have to deal with core issues in a way that will dictate the direction of negotiations, but not necessarily offer a solution to those issues," government officials said after the meeting.
Olmert told Rice that "Israel is interested in the success of the international meeting and sees it as an opportunity to garner broad international support for a peace agreement."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report