Two leaders discuss regional and security issues, agree to face-to-face meeting soon
Israel's Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday for the first time since taking office last month, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The two leaders agreed to a face-to-face meeting soon.
Bennett acknowledged the "historic bond between the Russian and Jewish peoples," and talked about the importance of the Russian aliyah in Israel that saw a massive wave of Russian Jews immigrate to Israel starting in the late 1980s.
The two men discussed regional and security issues, with Bennett thanking Putin for his role in helping to bring back Israel's missing and captive citizens. The Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip currently holds the remains of Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, two Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza War. Hamas is also holding hostage two Israelis -- Avraham "Avera" Mengistu and Hisham Al-Sayed.
Bennett also thanked Putin for his congratulations upon the forming of Israel's new government.
“I expect that your work at the helm of the government will facilitate a further development of constructive bilateral cooperation along all directions,” Putin relayed in a message that the Kremlin released shortly after the new government was sworn in.
Israel's previous prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had a warm relationship with Putin during his 12 years in office with the two leaders meeting frequently.
Bennett is also in talks to visit Washington this summer for a visit with US President Joe Biden, who recently participated in a summit in Geneva with Putin amid disagreements between the US and Russia over a host of issues.