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    ISRAEL SEES RUSSIA AS GUARANTOR OF STABILITY IN MIDEAST

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    MOSCOW, MARCH 10 (RIA NOVOSTI) - Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Saltanov of Russia and senior Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Sofer of Israel met in Moscow Wednesday to examine the prospects of Russo-Israeli relations. Both sides reiterated their commitment to further expanding wide-ranging cooperation and maintaining an active political dialogue, the Russian Foreign Ministry reports.

    Later today, the senior Israeli diplomat met with Mikhail Margelov, chair of the foreign policy committee in the Federation Council, or parliament's upper house. The two officials discussed the relationship between Russia and Israel as well as the latest Mideastern developments.

    "Russia is important to us as a guarantor of stability in the Middle East," Sofer told a Moscow press conference after the meeting. Both countries are now facing the same challenges, of which the main one is that posed by terrorism, Sofer said. He believes that there is no controversy between Moscow and Tel Aviv that might strain their relations.

    Margelov, for his part, said that Russia and Israel have a large potential for cooperation, due in no small measure to the fact that Russian society has grown aware of all the seriousness of the situation in the Middle East. The Russian MP also pointed out the similarity of the two countries' stances on some topical problems beyond the Mideastern region, such as the current rise of anti-Semitism and Russophobia in Baltic and Eastern European nations who are about to enter the EU.

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