Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
I am happy to welcome all of you in the Kremlin. Thank you for coming to Russia for negotiations despite the complicated situation in your country.
There is no doubt that Middle Eastern settlement is an urgent matter today. Regional developments worry us all the more as immigrants from the Soviet Union and Russia make a considerable part of the Israeli population. We are not indifferent to their future, and we want them to live in peace and safety.
An overwhelming majority of those people maintain contacts with Russia, where they have friends and relatives. They revisit Russia, speak the Russian language, and treat Russian culture as their own, with great interest and respect.
On the other hand, as you know, we have good and long-established relations with the Arab world, Palestinian Authority being no exception. We see such relations as a good basis for Russia to make a significant contribution to the settlement cause as everyone realises that a political decision will be necessary, in the final analysis.
You know our principled anti-terrorist position. Nothing can justify terrorist attacks on civilians. So, Mr Sharon, if you have no objections, we can open this meeting with a discussion of the settlement problem, next to go over to bilateral relations.
Welcome to Moscow!