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Israel PM meets Putin at Kremlin for Ukraine talks
Israel PM meets Putin at Kremlin for Ukraine talks

Israel PM meets Putin at Kremlin for Ukraine talks

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held Kremlin talks with Vladimir Putin Saturday, the Russian president's second meeting with a foreign leader since his forces invaded Ukraine last week.

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Bennett has so far not joined other foreign leaders in condemning the Russian offensive, stressing Israel's strong ties with both Moscow and Kyiv. Ukraine has previously asked Bennett to mediate.

A statement from Bennett's office said the premier "took off early this morning for Moscow, after speaking with President Putin last Wednesday."

Bennett is a religious Jew who does not conduct official business on Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath, except under extraordinary circumstances.

An Israeli official said the Kremlin talks lasted three hours.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies that Putin and Bennett were "discussing the situation in Ukraine."

The meeting appeared to be the first with a foreign leader devoted to the Ukraine conflict.

Putin received Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Kremlin on the day the invasion began, in a visit that was long schduled but widely considered ill-timed.

On Monday, Khan defended the trip -- the first by a Pakistani leader to Russia in more than two decades.

"My foreign policy is independent and visits to China and Russia will prove beneficial for Pakistan in the future," he said in a televised address.