Abbas, Palestinian Intel Chief Discuss Security Cooperation With Visiting Russian Delegation

Palestinian President Abbas is slated to hold talks with Russia's Putin on February 12

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attends a meeting at the Palestinian presidential complex in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 31, 2018.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with two members of a Russian delegation in Ramallah on Thursday, according to a statement released by the Palestinian intelligence agency.

Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian Federation Security Council, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov also met with Palestinian intelligence chief Majid Faraj.

The two sides spoke about cooperation on security matters including training and training exercises, the statement from Faraj's office said. 

Abbas is slated to hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the southern Russian city of Sochi on February 12, RIA news agency quoted Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Thursday.

Since U.S. President Donald Trump's declaration in December recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Palestinian Authority officials have approached Russia directly seeking to have Moscow take a more active role on the Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic front, as well as with regard to training of Palestinian security forces, a subject that had been primarily dealt with by the United States.

Abbas said after Trump's declaration that the Palestinians will only pursue internationally-based diplomatic negotiations but not talks under American auspices.

The Russian delegation, which arrived in Israel on Tuesday, also includes the deputy justice minister, generals and senior officials in the army and Russian intelligence service. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu' national security adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, was also scheduled to host the delegation for extensive discussions on regional issues and other subjects related to Russia and Israel's joint interests, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement on their arrival.

The Russian delegation's arrival came a day after Netanyahu met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, where the two are reported to have held an in-depth discussion on missile plants Israel has said Iran is building in Lebanon.
Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Netanyahu said that Iran's missile manufacturing facilities were already "in progress" and that he had told his Russian hosts that this represents a threat that Israel was not willing to accept.