Incoming Israeli FM urges strategic partnership with Russia

Tapped as foreign minister in the future Netanyahu government, Avigdor Lieberman says relations between Israeli and Russia “must and can rise to a level of strategic partnership.” In an unusual interview with the Russian Interfax news agency, the leader of the right-of-center Israel Beitenu said Wednesday, March 18: “However paradoxical it may seem, the global economic crisis gives Israel new opportunities to reach the Russian market after many Western companies abandoned it.”
He added: “The same refers to military-technical cooperation. Israel has quite a few things to offer Russia in this sector – from electronic systems for fighter jets to drones.”
Israel Beitenu came third in the February general election. His party has been awarded key portfolios in Binyamin Netanyahu’s future administration, including foreign affairs and internal security.
Lieberman promised Israel would attend the upcoming Middle East peace conference which Moscow is planning as rejoinder to the Bush administration’s failed Annapolis project. “We hope the agenda will be negotiated in advance and we’ll try to draw our positions nearer in advance. We see Russia as a very important factor, especially in the Middle East,” he said, voicing the hope that Moscow would adopt a balanced position in the region.

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