Israel's Olmert to pay snap visit to Russia

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JERUSALEM, Oct 17 (Reuters) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will hold talks in Russia with President Vladimir Putin tomorrow, the Israeli leader's office said today, announcing the surprise visit.

''The prime minister intends to discuss with the Russian president a series of regional issues including the peace process with the Palestinians and Iran's threats and its attempt to equip itself with nuclear weapons,'' the announcement said.

Olmert will return to Israel tomorrow evening after his meeting with Putin, the prime minister's office said.

News of the talks came on the final day of a four-day visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank by U S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is preparing the ground for a U S-sponsored West Asia conference expected next month.

Reuters PD RN1834

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