Israel’s prime minister is visiting Russia for talks expected to focus on regional security and Syria.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Russia marks his first since September’s downing of a Russian warplane by Syrian forces that were responding to an Israeli air strike. The incident threatened to derail close security ties between Russia and Israel.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the start of Wednesday’s talks that “it’s very important to discuss the situation in the region and security issues.” Netanyahu invited the Russian leader to visit Israel.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend the talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend the talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the talks in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, gestures while speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, gestures while speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Feb. (Maxim Shemetov/Pool Photo via AP)

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