Blinken, Israel’s Lapid discuss Ukraine-Russia diplomacy, Iran nuclear talks

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met in the Latvian capital of Riga on Monday to discuss Israel’s diplomatic initiative to end Russia’s war with Ukraine.

The pair would also discuss the talks in Vienna on a possible return to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Lapid said in remarks at the start of the meeting with reporters present.

The meeting comes after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett held surprise talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow last week at Ukraine’s request.

“Israel is a partner in the global effort to make sure and clarify that this war must be stopped,” Lapid said. “The way to stop the war is to negotiate.”

Blinken said the US appreciated any efforts of its allies “to see if there’s any opening to end the war,” and insisted that any solution must ensure the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Russia calls its campaign a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and remove leaders it describes as neo-Nazis. Ukraine and its Western allies have said Russia’s actions were a transparent pretext for an invasion to conquer a nation of 44 million people.

Lapid said his meeting with Blinken comes at a time “when the world order is changing,” referring to both the war in Ukraine and the nuclear talks.

Russia said on Saturday that Western sanctions imposed over Ukraine had become a stumbling block for an Iran deal.

While not a party to the nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers in Vienna, Israel has conferred with the US administration in hope of wielding more clout over any revival of a 2015 deal with Tehran that was reached over its objections.

“It’s not secret we have our differences on this, but it is a conversation between allies that have a common goal which is to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold country,” Lapid said.

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