Netanyahu’s visit to Moscow on Iran fruitless
JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Moscow to push Russia into taking a harder line on Iranian nuclear negotiations has fallen flat, Israel's media said on Thursday.
Netanyahu flew to Moscow Wednesday in what was seen as a last-minute bid to influence an emerging nuclear deal with Iran strongly opposed by the Jewish state and being discussed by world powers and Iranian diplomats in Geneva.
Right-leaning Maariv newspaper said Russian President Vladimir Putin's comments after meeting Netanyahu at best gave little away, and suggested the Israeli premier's visit had left no lasting impression.
"When the two men gave their joint press conference (Wednesday), it appeared Putin's statement had been given to journalists in advance, and he only changed certain passages afterwards to make them more palatable to Netanyahu," it said.
Speaking as the talks got under way in Geneva between Iran and world powers, Putin only said he hoped that "in the nearest future a mutually acceptable solution is found" to end the crisis.
Top-selling Yediot Aharonot said Netanyahu's visit to Moscow was an unnecessary "put-down" to the United States after tension with Israel over a possible Iran deal.
"Every reader knows Putin supports and will continue to support the ayatollahs' regime in Iran," Yediot said.
"If there's the slightest chance of persuading world powers to take a harsher line on Iran, Israel should engage in discreet dialogue (with the US), instead of bickering publicly with Washington," it said.
And left-leaning daily Haaretz suggested Netanyahu's visit was futile, pointing out Russia was traditionally much more closely aligned with the Islamic republic than with other world powers.
"Russia, which built Iran's first nuclear power plant and remains on better terms with Tehran than Western powers, has expressed less suspicion than them about Iran's nuclear work," it said.
Netanyahu insisted on the need for a "real" solution to the Iranian nuclear crisis, after his talks with Putin.
"We would all like a diplomatic solution, but it needs to be a real solution," said Netanyahu, adding that this would involve Iran halting nuclear work in the same way that Syria was allowing its chemical weapons arsenal to be destroyed.
Iran would have to halt uranium enrichment, stop work on centrifuges, have enriched uranium material taken out from Iran and dismantle the Arak heavy water reactor, he said.
"We think it is possible to get a better agreement but that requires determination," Netanyahu warned.
Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state, has not ruled out the use of force against the Iranian atomic drive.
Tehran says its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes.