Putin 'proud' of relations with Israel

By Elena Teslova

MOSCOW (AA) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was "proud" of his country's relations with Israel during a charity foundation conference on Tuesday.

Speaking at the Keren Hayesod foundation's conference, held for the first time in Moscow, Putin praised the organization for its role in the development of Russian-Israeli relations.

"I am proud to say, without any exaggeration, that there has never been such a level of relations between Russia and Israel, if not to mention, of course, the very first months or a couple of years since the formation of the state of Israel," the president said.

He also stressed the role of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in maintaining "a comprehensive political dialogue", saying he regularly holds meeting with him, exchanges opinions over the phone, discusses the "most pressing problems in a working order".

Putin's remarks come as Israel conducts early parliamentary elections, which he commented earlier at the meeting with Netanyahu who visited Russia several days prior to the polls. He said that Russia was not "indifferent" about who would enter the Israeli parliament as Moscow considers more than 1.5 million former Soviet citizens living in Israel as "compatriots".

Keren Hayesod is an Israeli charity foundation established to sponsor support programs in the field of education, culture, religion and charity.