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Russia and Israel to expand anti-terror cooperation after talks in Moscow

Russia's Vladimir Putin has hosted Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu for talks in Moscow about international terrorism and the situation in Syria. The leaders also discussed economic ties and Israeli-Turkish reconciliation.

Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in Moscow to increase bilateral ties and discuss Syria.

"We talked about the need to take joint efforts to confront international terrorism," Putin said at a news conference. "We undoubtedly are allies in that area, and our countries have accumulated significant experience in fighting extremism."

The two leaders particularly discussed coordination in Syria to avoid possible incidents between Russian and Israeli troops.

Netanyahu said the increased contact between the two nation's militaries would "prevent any incidents, and also ensure success in fighting our common enemy: international terrorism."

Both leaders praised Israel's Russian-speaking population, with Netanyahu calling them a "living bridge" between the two countries.

Last month, an alleged Putin ally, Avigdor Lieberman,

became Israel's defense minister

after serving as foreign minister for several years.

Turkish-Israeli reconciliation

Putin also

backed reconciliation efforts between Israel and Turkey,

saying he views them "exclusively positively."

"The fewer problems between governments, the better," Putin said.

Turkey and Israel have been holding talks to warm up six years of frosty relations following Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip in 2009. Ten Turkish citizens died after the Israeli navy raided an aid flotilla en route to Gaza.

Israeli media on Tuesday said Netanyahu's talks with Putin were important for moving reconciliation with Turkey forward.

Workers arrange pipes delivered for construction of the South Stream gas pipeline

Putin denied that two gas pipeline projects had been cancelled

Pipeline projects

Despite Russia's own tensions with Turkey, Putin said on Tuesday the gas pipeline projects South Stream and Turkstream had "definitely" not been canceled. He is, however, awaiting a clear position from Europe.

"There are certain political difficulties with Turkey - this is widely known. But we have not irreversibly cancelled any of these projects - neither South Stream nor Turkstream," Putin said.

Netanyahu added that there were no legislative restrictions preventing Russian firms from taking part in Israel's new offshore gas fields.

Plans for Turkstream, which sought to increase Russian gas exports to southern Europe through Turkey, froze after a Russian jet was shot down by Turkish forces near the Syrian-Turkish border last November.

The dispute over the South Stream pipeline project arose between Moscow and Brussels after Russia's annexation of Crimea from the Ukraine as well as a slew of economic sanctions over the conflict.

rs/kms (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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