Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the Kremlin on Sept. 4, the president's press service said Thursday.

The two will discuss the conflict in the Middle East and bilateral relations, it said.

There have been suggestions in the Israeli media that Sharon could postpone his Russian visit, set for Sept. 3-6, due to the violence in Israel and the Palestinian areas. But Sharon, speaking Wednesday to Russian journalists in Israel ahead of the visit, said the trip was much too important.

"It is very important to strengthen Israel's relations with Russia," the premier said. "Israel is showing great interest in broadening diversified relations with Russia."

In comments cited by the Interfax news agency, Sharon praised Putin for maintaining a democratic climate in which "Jews can live their community life and freely emigrate."

Sharon said his key theme would be the "urgent need to combat Arab and Muslim terrorism, the main threat to stability in the Middle East."

"Besides that, we shall discuss future threats that will become much more perilous in three to five years, if weapons of mass destruction spread and get into the hands of Iran and Iraq," he said.