February 15, 2010 9:27:50 am
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Moscow on Monday on a two-day working visit with Russia on the verge of backing tough international sanctions against Iran,the Jewish state’s arch-foe.
Netanyahu’s plane touched down at 2:45 am local time (0515 IST). The Israeli leader will hold talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
This is Netanyahu’s first official trip to Moscow since taking office a year ago,but follows a clandestine visit in September,a secretive move that highlighted the key role Russia plays in Israel’s drive to thwart Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons ambitions.
“We will discuss a range of issues,but first and foremost Iran,” Netanyahu told a cabinet meeting hours before he was due to leave for Moscow.
“Israel believes that strong pressure must be applied to Iran,especially very tough sanctions,” he said,echoing his calls last week for “crippling sanctions” on the Islamic republic.
The visit comes a week after Russia questioned the “sincerity” of Iran’s pledges not to develop nuclear weapons and,in a policy shift,said fresh UN sanctions on Tehran were a “realistic” option.
Iran declared on Tuesday it had started the process of producing 20-per cent enriched uranium,as the United States stepped up its efforts to pass a new round of sanctions against Tehran by the United Nations Security Council.
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