MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that Russian special forces troops in Syria had found the remains of a U.S.-born Israeli soldier missing since 1982, allowing him to be finally buried.
The disappearance of Zachary Baumel, who was 21 when he fought in Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and was declared missing in action along with two other soldiers in the Battle of Sultan Yacoub, has long troubled Israel.
Speaking at talks with Netanyahu in Moscow, Putin was cited by Russian news agencies as saying that it had been a tough task to locate his remains.
“Our soldiers together with Syrian partners established his resting place. We are very happy that they will be able to give him the necessary military honours at home,” Putin was quoted as saying.
Baumel immigrated to Israel with his parents from New York in 1970.
Netanyahu was quoted as saying that he had asked Putin to help Israel find Baumel’s remains two years ago, that he was grateful to the Russian leader for his help, and that Baumel would be buried in Israel later on Thursday.
“I am grateful to you Mr President for your personal friendship, for your position,” the TASS news agency cited Netanyahu as saying. “We share common values.”
(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Osborn)