FM Sharon Meets with Russian Officials

(Communicated by the Foreign Ministry Spokesman)
20 January 1999

Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon, who is currently conducting a working visit to Russia, at the invitation of the Russian government, met today (Wednesday), 20.1.99, with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Defense Minister Sergeev and Interior Minister Stepashin. In the course of the meetings, which continued for three and a half hours and were held in a cordial atmosphere, discussions took place on economic and bilateral issues of relevance to the two countries, the problem of antisemitism; regional strategic issues, the Middle East peace process and Russia’s place in it, and the dangers facing Israel as a result of Russian technical aid and the providing of information to Iran. The two ministers agreed on the immediate renewal of the meetings of the Russian/Israeli joint economic committee and the advancement of concrete proposals and projects for broadening the economic relationship between Russia and Israel.

Foreign Minister Sharon drew his hosts’ attention to the issue of antisemitism, the Russian Foreign Minister said that the Russian government, which heads a multi-national state, condemns this phenomenon and is working and will continue to work determinedly against all manifestations of antisemitism within its borders.

In answer to a question about the relation between the new wave of antisemitism in Russia and his call for the immigration of a further million Russian Jews to Israel, FM Sharon stressed that antisemitism must be fought without compromise everywhere, and that he is happy to hear from the Russian Foreign Minister that the Russian government opposes and is working energetically against the phenomenon. The Foreign Minister declared: "I have made my call for the immigration of a million Jews throughout the last two weeks, as I visited the U.S., France and now Russia. It has nothing to do with the phenomenon of antisemitism — the bringing of immigration is the key national task facing Israel today."

Foreign Minister Sharon welcomed the desire of the Russian Foreign Minister to contribute to the peace process between Israel and its neighbours, and said with regard to the Palestinians: "We are willing to fully implement the Wye Agreement, on the condition that the Palestinian Authority carry out all its commitments in the agreement according to the principle of reciprocity. "

At the conclusion of the series of meetings and the lunch hosted by the Russian Foreign Minister for FM Sharon and his entourage in the official guest house, the two ministers agreed on the creation of a direct channel of communication between them, and to the continuation of the renewed dialogue.

FM Sharon also held meetings with Interior Minister Stepashin and Defense Minister Sergeev. In the meeting with the Interior Minister, the two discussed cooperation in the various aspects of the war against terrorism, and the war against organised crime.

In the meeting with Defense Minister Sergeev, FM Sharon stressed Russia’s status as a superpower, which despite its present difficulties, has an important role to play on the international stage and in the Middle East. The two discussed possibilities for cooperation in a wide range of strategic and economic subjects, including the arrival of Russian military technology to Iran. FM Sharon stressed that greater cooperation between the two countries will be possible on condition that Russia adopts a more moderate policy in the Middle East.