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Putin, Netanyahu find common ground in Moscow

In their first meeting since the downing of a Russian jet in September 2018, Russia's president and Israel's prime minister carefully reaffirmed their strained ties.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia February 27, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov - RC19AC167970

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday for the first time since Syria accidentally shot down a Russian reconnaissance plane in September 2018 while defending against Israeli strikes. The accident killed 15 Russian airmen and seriously strained Russian-Israeli relations. Moscow would later decline a series of Israeli proposals for high-level meetings to settle the issue and supplied the S-300 missile defense system to Syria.

Putin and Netanyahu met briefly in November in Paris on the sidelines of the conference commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. As the issue continued to erode the bilateral relationship, Netanyahu continued to seek a full-fledged encounter with Putin that eventually ended in the agreement to host the Israeli leader in Moscow on Feb. 21. Netanyahu had to delay the visit over the need to deal with the emerging centrist coalition at home but ultimately made it to the Russian capital a week from the originally scheduled date. The visit hence acquired a clear-cut domestic angle with Netanyahu trying to make the most of this trip both in terms of PR appeal with a series of tweets from Moscow and in terms of the message he conveyed to the Russian president.

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