Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett had been very productive as both hailed friendly ties.

Putin made the remarks as Bennett was leaving his residence in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi, after his first meeting with the Russian leader after becoming prime minister in June.

Russia and Israel have developed close political, economic and cultural ties that have helped them tackle delicate and divisive issues, such as the situation in Syria where Moscow has teamed up with Tehran to shore up Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule.

Russia has waged a military campaign in Syria since 2015, helping Assad's government reclaim control over most of the country.

Moscow also has helped modernize Syria's military, including providing Assad with air defense systems, and trained its personnel.

Israel, however, has been targeting Iranian military bases and weapons transfers in Syria since early 2017 stating that it cannot tolerate a dangerous Iranian presence on its borders. Russia has looked the other way as Israel has bombed hundreds of targets.

Russia and Israel established a military hotline to coordinate air force operations over Syria to avoid clashes.

In 2018, Russia-Israeli ties were severely tested by the downing of a Russian warplane by Syrian forces that responded to an Israeli air raid and mistook a Russian reconnaissance plane for Israeli jets.

All 15 members of the Russian crew died.

Moscow also has played a delicate diplomatic game of maintaining friendly ties with both Israel and Iran.

In 2018, Moscow struck a deal with Tehran to keep its fighters away from the Golan Heights to accommodate Israeli concerns about the Iranian presence in Syria.

Russia is one of the international parties that negotiated a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

The deal fell apart after then-President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.

But the new US administration is now trying to revive the deal with other international powers — a step that Israel opposes.

Bennett said earlier that he would also discuss Iran’s nuclear talks, stalled since June, with Putin. but there are no details so far about the discussion.

"We will also talk about the situation in Syria, and the efforts to halt the Iranian military nuclear program," Bennett said at the start of the talks.

Bennett and other Israeli officials have been warning in the past months that they have to take the matters into their own hands to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Latest reports indicate Israeli preparations for a potential confrontation with Iran.

With reporting by AP

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