Terms of 1974 Golan disengagement must be restored -- Putin

Putin says he and Trump agreed on securing Israel’s border with Syria

At joint press conference, US president says Washington and Moscow will work together to ensure Israel’s safety; Netanyahu thanks leaders for their commitment

US President Donald Trump (L) listens as Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. (AFP/Yuri K adobnov)
US President Donald Trump (L) listens as Russia's President Vladimir Putin speaks during a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. (AFP/Yuri K adobnov)

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday said he and US President Donald Trump agreed on securing Israel’s border with Syria, in accordance with the 1974 disengagement of forces deal following the Yom Kippur War.

When terrorist forces are wiped out in south and west Syria, Putin said, “the situation on the Golan Heights must be restored to what it was after the 1974 agreement, which set out the terms for the disengagement of forces between Israel and Syria.”

Putin, speaking at a joint press conference with the US leader following a private meeting, said this would “restore quiet to the Golan Height, bring a more peaceful relationship between Syria and Israel, and also provide security to the state of Israel.”

The Russian leader said that during his “very successful” one-on-one meeting, Trump paid “special attention” to the issue, “and I would like to confirm that Russia is interested in this development and will act accordingly.”

Trump, for his part, noted that “President Putin also is helping Israel.” He said that both leaders had spoken with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “and they would like to do certain things with Syria having to do with the safety of Israel… We absolutely would like to work in order to help Israel, and Israel will be working with us. So both countries work jointly [for this purpose].”

Added Trump: “Working with Israel is a great thing. Creating safety for Israel is something that both President Putin and I would like to see very much.”

The two men also addressed Iran, with Putin noting that Russia still backed the 2015 nuclear accord that Trump quit in May.

Said the Russian president: “We also mentioned our concern about the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA… Our US counterparts are aware of our posture. Thanks to the Iranian nuclear deal, Iran began [to be the] most controlled country in the world. It is submitted to the control of the IAEA. It effectively ensures the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program and strengthens the non-proliferation regime.”

The US president, by contrast, said he “emphasized the importance of placing pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear ambitions and to stop its campaign of violence throughout the area, throughout the Middle East.” He said he also “made clear that the United States will not allow Iran to benefit from our successful campaign against ISIS (Islamic State).”

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin listens while US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at Finland’s Presidential Palace, on July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski)

Netanyahu in a statement thanked the two leaders for their commitment to Israeli security.

He praised Trump, saying “The friendship between Israel and the US has never been stronger.”

Netanyahu “very much appreciates the security coordination between Israel and Russia and the clear position expressed by President Putin regarding the need to uphold the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria,” the statement added.

Trump and Putin touched on issues that included tensions on the Korean peninsula and the situation in Syria during their summit, Putin said.

“I consider [the talks] very successful and useful,” Putin said, praising the “frank and business-like atmosphere” of the summit.

He said Trump had raised accusations of Russian interference in US elections.

“I had to repeat what I have already said many times before — the Russian state has never interfered and is not planning to interfere in the USA’s internal affairs,” Putin said.

“It is obvious to everyone that bilateral ties are going through a difficult period. However there are no objective reasons for these difficulties, the current tense atmosphere,” he said.

Putin suggested special prosecutor Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who is looking into interference in the November 2016 vote, send Moscow a request to interview the Russians he suspects of meddling.

Special counsel Robert Mueller departs after a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on June 21, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

US intelligence agencies believe Putin ordered hackers and propagandists to intervene in the 2016 election to help Trump win, but the US leader appeared to side with the Russian.

“I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today and what he did is an incredible offer,” Trump said.

Trump also declared that the investigation into Moscow’s alleged meddling in his election had been a “disaster” for the United States.

“We ran a brilliant campaign and that’s why I’m president,” Trump said.

In response to a question about whether he had wanted Trump to win the election, Putin said he did, because the businessman had pledged to improve ties between Washington and Moscow.

Putin praised cooperation between Russian and US security services, adding that he favoured continued cooperation in “the fight against terror and ensuring cyber security.”

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said separately that the talks were “better than super,” in comments reported by Russian news agencies.

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