(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
A Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee delegation led by chairman Tzahi Hanegbi traveled to Moscow Tuesday in a bid to convince the Russians to back further UN sanctions on Iran.
The delegation - which also includes MKs Amir Peretz, Ze'ev Elkin, Miri Regev and Robert Ilatov - was due to meet Russian lawmakers, nuclear officials and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s top advisers, and present them with Israel’s assessments on Iran’s nuclear activities.
The Israeli-Palestinian track, tensions in southern Israel, and the threats posed by Hizbullah and Syria were also due to be on the agenda.
The two sides were also set to sign an accord for fixed dialogue between the two countries' parliaments - an agreement the Knesset only has at present with the US Congress.
HHanegbi stressed that such an inter-parliamentary dialogue forum between the FADC and Russia's equivalent would significantly bolster the close ties between the two countries.
"This is a most important development, especially considering Russia’s unique weight in the processes of the international community to stop Iran's nuclear program," said Hanegbi in a statement.
Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan plans Tuesday to challenge the French president's support for new sanctions against Iran, and to press Paris again on Turkey's stalled membership bid to the European Union.
France has helped lead the push for new sanctions against Teheran over its nuclear activities, and last week French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Barack Obama said they hoped for a quick new UN resolution
Erdogan, was due to hold talks Tuesday with Sarkozy in Paris, and in an interview before his visit said he doubted more sanctions against Iran would help persuade the Islamic Republic to assuage Western concerns about its nuclear program.
"I don't think those (sanctions) being discussed could produce results," Erdogan told the French daily Le Figaro
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Turkey as well as Brazil, both rotating members of the UN Security Council, have resisted a new sanctions resolution.
"We don't want nuclear arms in the region," but Iran does have a right
to nuclear energy, Erdogan was quoted by Le Figaro
urged a diplomatic solution to the international standoff, and noted
Iran is Turkey's No. 2 natural gas supplier and a major trade partner.
week, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel was visiting Turkey, Erdogan
showed little sign of budging on his Iran stance. Merkel also told
Erdogan she hadn't changed her mind on opposing Turkey's joining the
EU, calling the ongoing membership talks an "open-ended" process.
Erdogan told Le Figaro
he would urge Sarkozy this week to back Turkey's bid.