Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his Israeli counterpart, Shimon Peres, for a 90-minute working meeting on diplomatic affairs Thursday. Putin then invited the Israeli delegation headed by Peres to a luncheon with Foreign Minister Lavrov and other dignitaries.
Putin added a quaint touch at the end of the luncheon when he opened a bottle of wine bottled in 1948.
"This wine was bottled in 1948, the year of the establishment of the state of Israel," said Putin. "Allow me to raise a toast to your life and health, allow me to raise a toast to the life of the state of Israel." Both he and Lavrov then uttered "L'chaim," the Hebrew exclamation used on such occasions.
Putin and Peres discussed Iran, Syria, and ways of restarting talks with the Palestinian Authority, as well as deepening the ties between Russia and Israel. Putin said afterward that he is "very pleased to note that relations between Israel and Russia are trending toward improvement."
"We are very happy about this. We intend to continue to act to increase cooperation in all areas including the economic sphere, hi-tech, agriculture and even space exploration."