Russian FM meets Netanyahu in Jerusalem over Syria, Iran

July 23, 2018 - 10:52 am

JERUSALEM (AP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday in talks focusing on the Iranian presence in Syria.

Netanyahu announced earlier at a Cabinet meeting that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a few days ago requested the meeting with the high level delegation that includes Russia's chief of the military's General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov.

Netanyahu said they will discuss regional developments with "the situation in Syria being first and foremost."

He said he will reiterate Israel's position that it expects Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Iranian-backed allies to honor the 1974 agreement which sets out a demilitarized zone along their shared frontier, and that Israel will continue to act to stop its archenemy Iran from establishing a permanent military presence in Syria.

Israel's main concern is to keep Iran, that is fighting alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad, as far away from its border as possible — along with its proxy, the Lebanese Hezbollah and other militia.

Russia, a key Assad ally, has warned it would be unrealistic to expect Iran to fully withdraw from the country.

Monday's meeting comes about two weeks after Netanyahu and Putin discussed Syria and Iran in Moscow.

Hours before the meeting Israel intercepted rockets from the fighting in Syria it believed were heading its way.

The incident came after Israel earlier this month, twice in the same week, fired a Patriot missile at an unmanned aircraft that approached the country's border from Syria.

In June, Israel fired a missile at a drone that approached its airspace near the Syrian frontier.

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