Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone Monday, in Bennett's first conversation with the Russian leader since taking office.
The two discussed diplomatic and security-related issues, and according to Bennett’s office, agreed to meet in the near future.
Bennett thanked the Russian president for the role that Russia has played in maintaining the regional stability in the Middle East, according to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office. Bennett also praised Russia's efforts to repatriate the two Israeli civilians who are being held in Gaza, as well as the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.
LISTEN: For LGBTQ minorities, Israel’s ‘gay paradise’ can be hell
Putin and Bennett also talked about the contribution that the Russian immigration has made to Israel and the importance that Bennett attaches to Russian immigrants as a bridge between the two countries.
The Russian leader congratulated Bennett in a formal letter last month, following the swearing-in of the prime minister. In the letter, Putin noted the warm relations between the two countries and expressed the hope that Bennett would work to further develop bilateral cooperation.
Last February, Russia mediated negotiations between Jerusalem and Damascus in an effort to return an Israeli woman, who crossed into Syria. The woman was transferred to Moscow, before arriving in Tel Aviv.
Last month, in their first meeting since Joe Biden’s inauguration as President of the United States in January, Biden and Putin met in Geneva. Following the meeting, Putin said that the United States and Russia “bear special responsibility for strategic stability in the world, proceeding at least from the fact that we are the two largest nuclear powers.”
- Why do Russians have no power over Putin? Top historian has the answer
- Israel and Russia find common interest in Syria
- It took Biden a month to call Netanyahu, two hours to call Bennett
At last week’s meeting at the White House between Biden and outgoing Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, it was agreed that Prime Minister Bennett would also be invited to meet with the American president in the near future, a visit that might take place as early as this month.