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(photo credit: Courtesy )
Six months after a clandestine, 10-hour trip to Moscow, details of which have not been revealed to this day, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is planning a trip to Moscow in mid-February, according to Russian sources.
According to these sources, Netanyahu was originally scheduled to travel to Moscow on January 27, a day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's scheduled arrival in Moscow for a four-day visit. The proximity of the two dates led some Russian officials to talk about the possibility of a summit between the two leaders in Moscow.
Netanyahu, according to Russian sources, canceled the January trip, however, citing as the
reason the fact that January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Rather than going to Russia, he will travel to Auschwitz to take part in a ceremony marking the 65th liberation of the death camp by the Soviet Red Army.
A number of world leaders have said they will attend that event, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and Czech President Vaclav Klaus. The Polish government also extended an invitation to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a move seen as an attempt by the Polish government to improve ties with Moscow. Medvedev has not yet confirmed.
Netanyahu is expected to combine his trip to Auschwitz with meetings with Polish government leaders.
Officials in the Prime Minister's Office confirmed there was initially some preliminary talk of combining his trip to Poland with a trip to Russia, but that this was put off because of logistical reasons, and another date - perhaps in February - was broached for a separate trip to Russia.
This would be Netanyahu's first official trip to Russia since taking office last March.