Trump says meeting with Putin was ‘really good’ for Israel

US president tells Fox that Putin is a ‘big fan’ of Jewish state and Netanyahu, but does not go into specifics

US President Donald Trump (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands after a press conference at Finland's Presidential Palace July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland. (AFP / Brendan Smialowski)
US President Donald Trump (L) and Russia's President Vladimir Putin shake hands after a press conference at Finland's Presidential Palace July 16, 2018 in Helsinki, Finland. (AFP / Brendan Smialowski)

US President Donald Trump on Monday said his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday was good for Israel, seemingly referring to efforts to remove Iran-backed fighters from Syria’s Golan border.

Trump also said Putin was a strong supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but did not offer any specifics on what was discussed that related to Israel at the meeting in Helsinki, where Iran’s presence in Syria had been widely expected to be a main topic of conversation between the two world leaders.

“We came to a lot of good conclusions. A really good conclusion for Israel. Something very strong,” Trump told Fox News, without going into detail.

Trump said Putin was “a believer in Israel.

“He’s a fan of Bibi,” he said, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “Really helping him a lot and will help him a lot, which is good for all of us.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on July 11, 2018. (AFP/ Pool/Yuri Kadobnov)

Netanyahu flew to Moscow last week to discuss Iranian entrenchment in Syria with Putin last week and on Saturday also spoke to Trump over the phone on the issue. Israel has been trying to rally Russia to support removing Iranian-backed militias as far as possible from the border region on the Golan Heights.

At a joint press conference with the Russian leader earlier, Trump said Moscow “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].”

Trump added that “creating safety for Israel is something both Putin and I would like to see very much.”

Putin at the conference said that during his “very successful” one-on-one meeting, Trump placed a special emphasis on maintaining Israel’s security. He said he and Trump agreed on securing Israel’s border with Syria, in accordance with the 1974 disengagement of forces deal following the Yom Kippur War.

US President Donald Trump, left, listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

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.”

In a statement following the press conference Monday, Netanyahu 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.

A picture taken on July 16, 2018 from the Israeli Golan Heights hows Syrian rebel fighters alongside a tank and an artillery gun amassing near the border in Syria’s southeastern Quneitra province, as government forces press their assault on the area. (AFP Photo/Jalaa Marey)

Russia has been allied with Iran in backing Syrian President Bashar Assad during the country’s seven-year civil war. The Kremlin has also continued to back the nuclear deal with Iran, despite Trump pulling out of the accord in May.

Trump said Russia still supported the nuclear accord because it does business with the regime in Tehran, so the deal is in Moscow’s interest, but said Iran was experiencing unrest.

“It is not good for us or for the world, but they have riots in all their cities,” Trump told Fox News.

“The inflation is rampant, going through the roof. And not that you want to hurt anybody, but that regime wouldn’t let the people know that we are behind them 100 percent.

“They are having big protests all over the country, probably as big as they have ever had before. And battles happened since I terminated that deal, so we will see,” he added.

AFP contributed to this report.

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