Putin gestures while speaking to Netanyahu, during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. File photo/ Reuters
Russia condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley ahead of a meeting between the Israeli leader and President Vladimir Putin later on Thursday, warning it could sharply increase regional tensions.
Netanyahu, who is campaigning for re-election on Sept.17, announced on Tuesday he intended to “apply Israeli sovereignty” to the Jordan Valley and adjacent northern Dead Sea - territory in the West Bank that it captured in the 1967 Middle East war and which Palestinians seek for a state.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday that it had noted what it said was the Arab world’s “strongly negative reaction” to Netanyahu’s announcement.
“We share concerns about such plans from the Israeli leadership, the implementation of which could sharply escalate tensions in the region, undermine hope for establishing a long-awaited peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours,” it said.
Netanyahu and Putin are due to hold talks in the southern Russian Black Sea city of Sochi later on Thursday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks with Pope Francis on Thursday, a day before Ukraine’s Catholic leaders meet at the Vatican to discuss the crisis in their country,
A judo blackbelt, Putin has long been keen to show off his athletic prowess, including by working out with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, hitting the ski slopes in Sochi or diving to the bottom of the Black Sea.
President Donald Trump said he held “very positive” talks on Friday with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the crisis in oil-rich Venezuela, where Washington is pushing to oust the Moscow-backed president.
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