Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Russian minister cancels visit to Israel

Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu

Source: Press TV

Russian Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu has delayed a visit to Israel following Moscow's expulsion of Tel Aviv's military attaché to the country for 'espionage.'

Shoigu informed his Israeli counterpart Matan Vilnai about the indefinite postponement of his trip, saying the decision was made because of a 'change in his schedule,' AFP reported on Monday.

He had been scheduled to visit Tel Aviv on Sunday to sign cooperation accords.

Israeli Air Force Colonel Vadim Leiderman was arrested during a May 12 meeting with Russian officials. Tel Aviv's military attaché was then questioned and told to leave the country immediately.

On Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that he had been 'caught red-handed' trying to receive 'secret information' on Russia's arms deals with Arab states.

However, Leiderman's diplomatic immunity has prevented Moscow from leveling charges against him.

Ynetnews, the website of the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, recently referred to "hectic efforts by Israel to appease Moscow and stop the already-grave diplomatic incident from escalating further.”

"Israel has substantial political and security interests in Russia and is now concentrating on damage control," the report said.

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