Russia's Putin invites Netanyahu to visit Moscow: Israeli official

JERUSALEM Wed Mar 20, 2013 1:41am EDT

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) listens to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they speak after delivering their joint statements following their meeting in Jerusalem June 25, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Hollander/Pool

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) listens to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they speak after delivering their joint statements following their meeting in Jerusalem June 25, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Hollander/Pool

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Russia, an Israeli official said on Wednesday.

Putin sent Netanyahu the invitation in a letter but no date for the visit was specified, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu received a letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulating him on the formation of the new government in Israel and inviting Netanyahu to visit Moscow," the official said.

The invitation came hours before U.S. President Barack Obama was due to land in Israel to begin his first official visit as president to the country, hoping to reset his often fraught relations with both the Israelis and Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited Moscow last week where he said he hoped peace talks with Israel would restart this year, although he added that the chances for this appeared slim.

(Reporting by Ori Lewis; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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