Peres, Medvedev talk about strengthening ties


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Shimon Peres and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev discussed strengthening strategic relations between the two countries.

The leaders met Tuesday in Russia at Medvedev’s summer residence on the Black Sea. During the four-hour meeting they also discussed Russia’s involvement in promoting regional peace and the Iranian nuclear issue.

"Russia would like to upgrade its strategic relations with the State of Israel to the same level as our relations with Germany, France and Italy," Medvedev said. "We admire Israel’s positive handling of the global economic crisis and appreciate your achievements in the fields of technology, agriculture and science."   

The leaders discussed the sale of Russian weapons and military hardware to countries hostile to Israel, including Iran.

"A nuclear weapon in Iranian hands has only one meaning — a flying death camp," Peres told Medvedev.

Medvedev said "Russia is opposed to nuclear weapons in Iranian hands."

"This situation worries us all, and we have no doubt that should Iran acquire nuclear weapons, it will lead to a nuclear arms race of other Middle Eastern countries," he said. "This is a very bad scenario."

Medvedev said that Russia wanted to actively assist in opening direct negotiations between Israel and Syria.

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