Growing concern over Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear capability was the chief topic of the ministers’ meeting, Shalom related.

 FM Shalom meets with Russian FM Lavrov


FM Shalom listens to FM Lavrov at the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom met in Jerusalem today (Wednesday, Oct. 26) with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

At a press conference following their working luncheon, Minister Shalom welcomed his Russian counterpart and noted the "close and friendly ties" between the two countries. He pointed out that 2006 will mark the 15th anniversary of bilateral relations.

Growing concern over Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear capability was the chief topic of the ministers’ meeting, Shalom related. Israel is greatly concerned that Iran is close to producing a nuclear bomb, he said, warning that Israel "must take every necessary step" to prevent what he termed "a nightmare for us and for Russia."

To this end, the two ministers discussed referring the question of Iran’s nuclear armament to the United Nations Security Council, with a view to seeking the imposition of economic and/or political sanctions to halt Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

On the local level, following the recent Kassam attack on Sderot, Shalom told his visitor that Israel would not tolerate the firing of missiles from the Palestinian Authority-controlled Gaza Strip at Israel and that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas must bring terrorism to an end. He reiterated Israel’s position that the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad cannot participate in the upcoming PA elections and asked Lavrov to convey this message.

Shalom asserted that Russia can play a constructive role, noting that Russia unfortunately has experienced terrorism firsthand and knows how important it is to strengthen the forces of moderation.

Foreign Minister Lavrov noted that he and Shalom discussed closer cooperation in the struggle against terrorism, saying that, "We know Israel supports our struggle." He said Israel and Russia share the "joint objective of peace" for all countries of the region, including a peaceful state of Palestine alongside Israel.

Lavrov said Russia supports Abbas’s efforts at normalization, but added that the Palestinians must boost their efforts to eliminate terrorism.

With regard to Iran, Lavrov said there is no need to persuade Russia of the dangers of a nuclear Iran. He said in answer to a question that, for the time being, Russia relies on the professional assessment of the International Atomic Energy Agency that there is "no clear and present danger," but added that, "We cannot allow ourselves to take a risk."

The ministers also discussed the recent report on Syrian involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and agreed that it is a matter for the UN Security Council to deal with.

Foreign Minister Shalom accepted his counterpart’s invitation to visit Russia.