Netanyahu, Putin to meet in Moscow on Syria, Palestinians
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Netanyahu, Putin to meet in Moscow on Syria, Palestinians

One-day talks on eve of Passover likely to include Russia's sale of advanced missile defense system to Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, September 21, 2015. (Courtesy Embassy of Israel in Russia)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, September 21, 2015. (Courtesy Embassy of Israel in Russia)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Thursday, to discuss regional security issues.

According to Israel’s Ynet news website, the topics under discussion will include Syria, where Russian troops have been supporting the regime of embattled President Bashar Assad, and the ongoing Israeli conflict with the Palestinians.

Israel has also lobbied for Moscow to nix the sale of advanced S-300 air defense systems to Iran, and that issue may be on the agenda as well.

Israeli officials said in March that Netanyahu would spend April 21 in the Russian capital, with the situation in Syria at the top of the agenda. Friday is the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover, when Netanyahu will likely aim to be back in the country.

Undated photo of a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (photo credit: AP, File)
Undated photo of a Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on display in an undisclosed location in Russia (photo credit: AP, File)

Putin extended the invitation to Netanyahu during a visit to Russia by President Reuven Rivlin last month, which came days after the Kremlin announced it was pulling its military forces out of Syria.

During the visit, Rivlin asked Putin to help reestablish the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force presence on the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria.

Israel is interested in making sure that Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed groups are not able to use a power vacuum on the Golan Heights to set up a base near the border for attacks against Israel.

According to Channel 2 news, the Israeli president conveyed the message from Netanyahu that the presence of such Israeli enemies along the chaotic Syrian border was a red line for the Jewish state.

President Reuven Rivlin (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow on March 16, 2016 (Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow on March 16, 2016 (Mark Neiman/GPO)

Putin told Rivlin that Russia and Israel “have a large number of questions to discuss linked with the development of bilateral trade and economic relations and questions of the region’s security,” according to Russian reports.

“I hope that we’ll be able to discuss them in the short run with the Israeli prime minister, with whom we have made arrangements for a meeting,” he added.

Netanyahu previously went on the record saying that Syrian peace talks, brokered between Moscow and Washington, needed to take Israel’s position into account.

On March 14, Putin made a surprise announcement that Russia would withdraw its military force from Syria, where it had been carrying out bombing runs against jihadists and rebel groups in support of Assad’s army.

Netanyahu last visited Putin in September 2015, shortly after Russia began its military buildup in Syria, to discuss coordination between the countries’ militaries over Syria’s crowded skies.

Stuart Winer contributed to this report

 

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