Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday issued a joint statement, following their earlier meeting in Moscow.

"Seventy-six years ago, my father was a child in the Budapest Ghetto. He was destined to die," Lapid began. "Then one day, he heard people speaking a language he didn't understand. My grandmother, who was with him, suddenly lifted her head and said: 'It’s Russian. It's the Russians, they have arrived.
We are saved.'"

"The Red Army saved the world from tyranny and racism. They also saved a 13-year-old boy in the ghetto. Three years later, the people of Russia supported the creation of the State of Israel. We owe you. And we are a people with a long memory."

Lapid added: "I want to thank Minister Lavrov for the important meeting we had today, and for his years of friendship to Israel. Next month we will mark 30 years since we renewed our relations. Russia is one of Israel's most significant and important partners."

"The Foreign Minister and I discussed ways to strengthen and deepen the relations between the new government of Israel and the Russian government. We all aspire to bring security and stability in our region and to the world."

He emphasized: "Unfortunately, there won't be stability in Syria, or in the wider Middle East, while there is an Iranian presence. Iran is the world's number one exporter of terror. It threatens us all. Israel will not sit quietly by, while Iran builds terror bases on our northern border, or while Iran supplies advanced weapons to terror organizations - weapons intended to be used against us."

"We will maintain our ability to defend ourselves in the face of threats from Syria and elsewhere," he promised. "We of course recognize that Russia has key interests in the region. That is why we formed the military deconfliction mechanism, which is both necessary and effective."

"The Foreign Minister and I also discussed the Iranian nuclear program, and the danger it poses to the entire world," Lapid continued. "The two IAEA reports are damning: They include serious violations - fraud, deception and outright lies. The picture is clear and very worrying," he added, noting Iran's "rapidly advancing nuclear program, without any effective supervision."

These IAEA reports, he added, "demand a Board of Governor’s decision. The message to Iran must be loud and it must be clear. Iran's march towards a nuclear weapon is not only an Israeli problem,
It's a problem for the entire world. A nuclear Iran will lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, and the last thing any of us want is to see nuclear weapons fall into the wrong hands."

"The world needs to stop Iran from getting a nuclear capability, no matter the price. If the world doesn't do it, Israel reserves the right to act. The Iranians have never hidden the fact that they want to destroy Israel. That is an existential threat for us. Israel will not allow Iran to become a nuclear state, or even a nuclear threshold state.

"I don't want to create the impression that the entire conversation between Minister Lavrov and myself was about threats and conflicts. Israel and Russia have strong and deep ties, in economics, culture, tourism, energy and science. Without Russia, culture in the world, and in Israel, wouldn't be the same - without Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, Chekhov and Akhmatova and Gogol.
Without them, our lives would all be much poorer.

"We want to build on our strong ties, and we can. In a world hurt by the pandemic, we need to find new ways to do business, new ways to develop cultural and economic ties. There are over a million Russian speakers living in Israel. One of them is our Minister of Tourism, Yoel Kostia Razbozov, who is here
with us. That is an incredible platform to deepen the ties, and to create economic opportunities for both countries.

"I want to thank Minister Lavrov for the warm welcome, and thank President Putin for his friendship and leadership. I look forward to even closer cooperation between our two countries in the coming years. Thank you."

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