(Communicated by the President’s Spokeswoman)
The President of Israel, Mr. Moshe Katsav, today met in his office with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergei Lavrov, who arrived on an official visit to Israel, within the framework of his visits to countries in the region.

The President of Israel expressed his sorrow and that of the people of Israel on the terrible bloodshed which took place in Russia and noted the common interests and good relations existing between the two countries.  The President said that it is impossible to separate between the terrorism which occurred in Russia and that which occurred in other places in the world and that terrorist attacks in one place encourage terrorist attacks in other places. "It must be remembered that terrorism has no borders and limitations," he said.

The Foreign Minister of Russia agreed with the President that the fight against terrorism must be regarded as a "common mission" and added that cooperation exists between Russia and Israel in a wide range of fields.

On the issue of the Palestinians, the President said that Arafat has the ability to stop the terrorism, which would make it possible to return to political negotiations and enable the Palestinians to achieve their political goals.  The President noted that the implementation of the Roadmap depends on the cessation of terrorism.  Arafat believes that terrorism helps him achieve his political aims and this must be refuted, said the President.

The Russian Foreign Minister said that although terrorism must be combated, and not given justification and understanding yet efforts must be made to help the Palestinian people and, therefore, Russia places great importance on the decision to withdraw from Gaza.

The President mentioned to his guest, who is leaving for Damascus, this evening, Syria’s support of the Hizbullah and the need to implement the United Nations’ resolutions calling for Lebanese sovereignty in South Lebanon.