Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman slipped into London this week to meet his British counterpart William Hague, in a secret visit that sought to avoid the kind of protests his last journey generated.

A joint statement following the Tuesday “open and productive” meeting said the two ministers had agreed to keep up pressure on Iran, which included “robust sanctions”.

However, this was soon overshadowed by news from Washington that US senators were supporting additional sanctions, in a move President Obama has threatened to veto.

Lieberman’s latest UK visit was kept under wraps until after his meeting with Hague had taken place, in order to avoid a repeat of the scenes from May 2012, when a sizeable protest group massed outside his Hendon hotel.

Long a controversial figure, a judge acquitted Lieberman of charges of fraud at the end of 2013, freeing him up to return to the cabinet as foreign minister. Most recently, he has submitted his vision of a land swap with the Palestinians.