JERUSALEM — Meeting under a news blackout, the head of the only Soviet consular delegation to visit Israel in 20 years met Friday with a senior Israeli official.
Delegation head Yevgeny Antipov said a talk with Yossi Beilin, the director general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, was devoted to diplomatic questions that have been pending since Moscow broke ties with Israel during the 1967 Middle East War.
The Soviet delegation previously met only Israeli consular officials.
Antipov denied Israeli press speculation that he came to discuss the Middle East peace process. Press speculation about a breakthrough was sparked by Antipov's request to meet Beilin less than 24 hours after returning from consultations in Moscow.
The Kremlin wants to play an active role in any Middle East peace conference, but Israel has long said this can only come about if official relations are renewed and major changes made in Soviet emigration policy.
The delegation arrived in Jerusalem two months ago with the stated aim of reviewing issues involving Soviet citizens in Israel.