Putin begins visit to Israel, Palestinians and Jordan
Russian President Vladimir Putin has begun a Middle East tour, starting in Israel, which wants him to press Iran to abandon its uranium program. Putin will also visit senior West Bank Palestinians and Jordan.
Putin's visit, the first by a Russian president to Israel in seven years, coincides with a geopolitical crisis over war-torn Syria, which on Friday downed a Turkish military jet.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israeli leaders would "explain" to Putin their calls for increased international pressure on Iran to drop uranium enrichment. Tehran says its program is only for civilian purposes, but the US and other Western nations suspect it of striving for nuclear weapons capability.
Israel, which is widely believed to be nuclear-armed, has in recent months indirectly warned that it might even strike Iran's program military as a last resort if diplomatic efforts, such as last week's six-power talks with Iran in Moscow, remain inconclusive.
The head of the Russia desk at the Israeli foreign ministry, Yacov Livne said last week: "Of course, we prefer a diplomatic solution, but we will use all means to protest Israel's survival." Iran's leadership has in the past called for Israel's destruction. (...)