Netanyahu to meet with Putin in Russia this week
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Netanyahu to meet with Putin in Russia this week

PM to travel to Sochi as the countries continue dialogue aimed at preventing clashes between their air forces operating in Syrian skies

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) during their meeting in Moscow on March 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Pavel Golovkin)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) during their meeting in Moscow on March 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Pool/Pavel Golovkin)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel to Russia this week to meet with President Vladimir Putin for continued talks aimed at preventing the Israeli and Russian air forces from clashing in the skies of Syria, his office said Saturday.

Netanyahu will meet Putin in the Black Sea Resort of Sochi on Wednesday, the statement said. Netanyahu last met with Putin in Moscow in March, but they have spoken by phone frequently since then.

“The two set the meeting to discuss the latest developments in the region,” the statement said, adding that “it must be noted that in the last two years Prime Minister Netanyahu has met with President Putin every few months to discuss bilateral and regional issues with the intention of preventing any clashes between Israeli and Russian air forces in Syria, with success until now.”

Russia entered the Syrian civil war in 2015 in support of the regime of President Bashar Assad, carrying out bombing runs against rebel groups fighting against Damascus.

While Israel has rarely acknowledged carrying out its own airstrikes in Syria, a number of attacks against weapons transfers have been attributed to Jerusalem.

Despite the coordination between the two countries, reported Israeli airstrikes in Syria on weapons convoys have led to tensions between Jerusalem and Moscow.

In April, Moscow summoned Israel’s ambassador to Russia, Gary Koren, to protest a reported Israeli strike that nearly hit Russian troops stationed in the area. Syria’s ambassador to the UN later said that Russia had changed its policy and no longer grants Israel freedom of action over Syrian skies.

Netanyahu subsequently denied reports Moscow had told Israel to end airstrikes in Syria, vowing that the IDF would continue attacking weapons convoys.

Netanyahu is also expected to discuss an cease-fire in Syria brokered by Washington and Moscow. Israel has opposed the deal saying it does not properly address Israel’s concerns about Iranian ambitions in the region.

Iran is said to be trying to forge a land corridor from Iran through Iraq and Syria, to Lebanon, where its ally Hezbollah operates.

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