Vladimir Putin appears to have been forced to backtrack on his plans to host a Middle East peace summit. On Wednesday, the Russian president announced he wanted to hold a conference in Moscow this autumn with the participation of all the states concerned. But yesterday Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dismissed the idea as “premature”. In response, Russia said the proposal had been misunderstood as it wanted a gathering of experts instead.
Whatever the truth behind the claims, the issue was not allowed to mar Putin’s historic trip as the first Kremlin leader to visit the Jewish state. However, the president was criticised for his support of Iran’s nuclear programme and the sale of anti-aircraft missiles to Syria.
Putin was accompanied by Israeli President Mosche Katzav during much of the trip, which included a visit to the Yad Vashem national Holocaust memorial on the outskirts of Jerusalem.