JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his deep gratitude to US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin for their mutually strong commitment to Israel's security.
"I praise the things I heard in the press conference with President Trump and President Putin," Netanyahu said in a video statement.
US President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Helsinki, Photo, AP
"First, I greatly appreciate the deep commitment to the security of Israel that Trump expressed at the press conference, and I can say that the friendship between Israel and the US has never been stronger," he said.
"Second, I greatly appreciate the things that President Putin said about the need to honor the 1974 separation agreements between Syria and Israel, just as I appreciate the security cooperation between the militaries of Russia and Israel, and I must say that on all of these issues I spoke in great detail with President Trump and President Putin in recent days. These are very important matters to the security of our state."
The separation agreement, drawn up by then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger after the 1973 Yom Kippur War, called for a buffer zone in the Golan Heights at Israel's border with Syria. Senior Israeli and Syrian military officers signed the agreement a year after the war.
Israeli-Syrian border, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
Last week, Netanyahu flew to Moscow for ongoing talks with Putin on Iranian attempts at military entrenchment in Syria. Two days before the Helsinki summit, Netanyahu and Trump spoke by phone.
While neither Trump nor Putin provided details of their meeting during the 45-minute press conference, both prioritized Israeli security.
Putin stressed the importance of restoring calm on the Golan Heights, and Trump noted the two are in one accord on "creating safety for Israel." Both appeared pleased with the talks, seeming to agree they were a success.
Russian media quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying the meeting between the two leaders was "better than super," the Times of Israel reported.
Meanwhile, reaction to the summit was less than enthusiastic by President Trump's political opponents in the States, including fellow Republicans like Sen. John McCain.
Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, speaks with the press in 2017, Photo, AP
"Today's press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory," McCain said in a widely quoted statement. "The damage inflicted by President Trump's naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate."
"Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are - a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad," he said. "It is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake."
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) backed Trump.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-KY, Photo, AP
"It's gotten so ridiculous that someone has to stand up and say we should try to engage even our adversaries and open up our lines of communication," Fox News quoted the senator's statements to Politico.
Paul said he will travel to Russia next month to continue the dialogue opened by the president.