FM to Moscow: Hold off Mideast debate

Lieberman tells Russian official that UNSC meeting will only "provide a forum for Israel-bashing.

lieberman doubtful 248.88 (photo credit: )
lieberman doubtful 248.88
(photo credit: )
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asked Moscow not to call for a special Middle East ministerial meeting at the UN Security Council, when he met Friday with visiting Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov in Jerusalem. "From our experience, such discussions only provide a forum for Israel-bashing and nothing more," Lieberman said. He added that it did not make sense to hold such a debate before the new government had properly formulated and publicized its diplomatic agenda. Lieberman promised that when Israel's position had been finalized it would be fully presented to the international community. The two men spoke about the proposed Moscow-sponsored Middle East conference. The meeting was initially designed as a follow-up to the US-backed Annapolis process under which Israeli-Palestinian talks took place in 2008. Lieberman has rejected Annapolis but said that if a Moscow parley was held, it should be coordinated with Israel, particularly with respect to the list of participants as well as the meeting's agenda and goals. The two also spoke of Iran's destabilizing influence through its support of terrorists organizations in neighboring countries. Although tensions have arisen between the two countries in the last year, particularly with respect to Israel's ties to Georgia and Russia's arms sales to Israel's neighbors, both men spoke of the good relations between the two countries. Lieberman's office said both sides expressed satisfaction over bilateral relations and that they also discussed strengthening those ties further, including in the fields of economics and technology. Before the meeting, Lieberman said he planned to discuss Russian arms sales to the region, but no details were given about that portion of the conversation. Lieberman added, "I want to understand and maybe change Russia's position concerning Hamas and Hizbullah in the wake of the latest developments." On Thursday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with Saltanov and asked him not to supply Iran with S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.