The reconstruction of Bethlehem’s Old City will increase tourist inflow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said following talks with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

The Russian president pointed out that “the development of humanitarian ties has always played an important role in cooperation between Russia and Palestine.” Putin pointed to the cultural projects implemented recently, particularly mentioning the reconstruction of Bethlehem’s Star Street leading to the Church of the Nativity. “I am sure that the renewed complex will become an iconic sight attracting even more pilgrims and tourists from Russia,” Putin said. According to him, in 2016, more than 300,000 Russians visited Palestine.

The Russian president also said that on Thursday, a new multifunctional cultural center built with Russia’s assistance had been launched in Bethlehem. “Our cooperation will not end here, we will continue to interact with the Palestinian management of the center in order to implement various educational and humanitarian projects,” he said.

Russia has been assisting Palestine in training specialists for a long time. According to Putin, more than 500 Palestinians are currently receiving medical, technical and humanitarian education in Russia.