Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed during their meeting in Sochi on Friday that the two nations would continue to implement the so-called deconfliction mechanism that works to prevent Israeli and Russian forces from clashing in Syria, a senior Israeli official said.

Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who accompanied Bennett to act as a translator and advisor, said talks revolved around the theme of maintaining continuity in the countries’ relationship after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was replaced by Bennett earlier this year.

According to Elkin, that included making sure the countries continued to work at avoiding conflict over Syria, where Russia is a main player backing the Syrian government and where Israel has waged a years-long campaign of airstrikes aimed at pro-Iranian fighters there.

There were “very wide” talks regarding the situation in Syria aimed at “safeguarding the coordination mechanism,” Elkin said.

“The prime minister presented his world view on ways to stop Iran’s nuclear drive and Iran’s entrenchment in Syria,” he said in a statement. “It was decided to keep policies vis-à-vis Russia in place (regarding airstrikes in Syrian territory.)”

“Russia is a very important player in our region, a kind of neighbor for us in the north,” Bennett said after the leaders met at the Black Sea resort town for their first face-to-face talks since Bennett took office earlier this year, referring to Russia’s large military presence in Syria.

“As such, our relationship with Russia is strategic, but also on an almost daily basis, and we need to maintain this direct and intimate discourse,” Bennett wrote in a Facebook post. READ MORE

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