Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to discuss U.S. President Donald Trump‘s recently unveiled plan for the Middle East.

Speaking at the start of the talks on January 30, Netanyahu said he wanted to discuss with Putin ways to join forces to achieve “peace and calm” in the region. He also thanked the Russian leader for his decision to grant a pardon to a U.S.-Israeli national jailed in Russia on drug charges.

Trump‘s peace plan, which was announced earlier this week, met with wild praise by Netanyahu but was greeted coolly at the United Nations and European Union and with anger by Palestinians and others.

The plan would give Israel control over Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley and it declared Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided capital.”

It also spoke of the possibility of an independent Palestine with its capital in parts of eastern Jerusalem, but set a series of conditions that must be first met by the Palestinians.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas immediately rejected the plan as too pro-Israel and said the Palestinians would prefer to continue peace talks with neutral brokers.

Palestinians have said they do not consider Washington to be an impartial player in the decades-long conflict after Trump made what they consider to be pro-Israeli policy decisions.

Russia, meanwhile, has been seeking a larger role in the region and as a mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians in recent years.

Putin met last week with Netanyahu in Jerusalem and Abbas in Bethlehem.

“Russia is ready to continue to undertake all efforts, do everything it can, to reach a viable peace in the Middle East,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to the state-run TASS news agency.

Meanwhile, Russian’s Federal Penitentiary Service said that a woman holding dual Israeli and U.S. citizenship was released from a penal colony in the Moscow region on January 30.

The move comes a day after Putin pardoned Naama Issachar, who was serving a 7 1/2-year prison sentence for smuggling drugs, on “humanitarian principles.”

Issacher was arrested at a Moscow airport in April and sentenced to prison in October for possession of 9 grams of marijuana.

With reporting by dpa, AP, AFP, TASS, and Interfax



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