Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived on Thursday in Russia for talks with President Vladimir Putin, in a last-minute bid to influence an emerging nuclear deal with Iran strongly opposed by the Jewish state.
An AFP correspondent accompanying the Israeli premier said Netanyahu arrived in Moscow in the early afternoon and made no comment to reporters during the flight.
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Netanyahu is to meet Putin at the Kremlin at around 1400 GMT to voice his concerns about the deal being hammered out at talks in Geneva. On Thursday, he will address members of the Russian Jewish community.
Earlier Wednesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei released a tirade of bellicose statements targeting both Israel and France. After calling Israel a "rabid dog... doomed for extinction," Khamenei moved on to slam France for "not only succumbing to the United States, but kneeling before the Israeli regime." Khamenei also leveled an indirect threat at both nations, promising to "slap aggressors in the face in such a way they will never forget it."
The French government spokeswoman says President Francois Hollande believes comments by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's comments about France are "unacceptable" and complicate nuclear negotiations.
French government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem told reporters that Hollande's Cabinet discussed the Iran nuclear dossier just hours before negotiations between Iran and six world powers were set to resume in Geneva. She said, however, that France still hopes for a deal and its position has not changed in the talks.
Nuclear talks resume
The P5+1 are meeting with Iran on Wednesday in Geneva for talks on the nuclear program, which Israel and the West suspect is aimed at developing a weapons capability but Tehran insists is entirely peaceful.
The last round of talks with Iran that ended on November 10 came tantalizingly close to a framework agreement that supporters say would bolster Iran's new president, a reputed moderate, and buy time for negotiating a comprehensive deal.
Moscow has expressed hope the differences could be ironed out, with Putin telling his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani on Monday that "a real chance has now emerged for finding a solution to this longstanding problem."
AFP, the Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report
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